Gilman excited for Midlands


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After Thomas Gilman ran through the field at 125 pounds and won the Midlands Championships last season, he gave his first-place trophy to his grandfather. It’s a tradition, he said. He doesn’t need to see what he’s earned to know what he’s done.

“Couldn’t tell you why or how it came about,” he said. “I’m not a very materialistic person. I don’t put things in my room. It’s just clutter. I know what I’ve done, and I know what I need to do. I don’t need material to keep me satisfied.”

Gilman’s finish last year was part of a record-setting first-place performance for the Iowa wrestling team, which is nothing new. The Hawkeyes have won 23 Midlands team titles — including five in the last seven seasons — more than any other team in tournament history.

But even more, Gilman’s run to first place earned him, for a brief period of time, the starting spot in Iowa’s lineup and catapulted him into the national spotlight, where he was ranked as high as third in the country by some polls.

In the semifinals, Gilman defeated two-time national champion Jesse Delgado of Illinois in a 3-1 decision that wasn’t as close as the final score suggests. The match before, he beat Northern Iowa’s Dylan Peters, a 2014 All-American. In the finals, he beat Jarrod Garnett, a 2013 All-American.

“Last year, I had a mission, and I accomplished it,” Gilman said. “I didn’t have the spot [in Iowa’s lineup], and I knew that by winning the Midlands and getting a chance to wrestle guys like Delgado and beating them, I’d have a chance to get that spot back.”

Cory Clark ultimately got the call for Iowa when it came time for the Big Ten championships. But the rest of the nation knew Gilman was a force to be reckoned with — a claim he’s backed up this season with a 10-0 record and No. 5 national ranking, according to Flowrestling.

Four of Flowrestling’s top eight at 125 pounds are expected to be in attendance at the Midlands this year — top-ranked Delgado, fourth-ranked Joey Dance of Virginia Tech, Gilman, and Air Force’s Josh Martinez, ranked eighth.

“Antsy maybe isn’t the right word. Excited, maybe, because I haven’t had that type of competition yet,” Gilman said. “I’m looking forward to wrestling the guys you mentioned, guys who show that they’re some of the better guys in the nation through their results and through what people are saying.”

Head coach Tom Brands said there are some key matchups that could potentially happen at the Midlands for Gilman but noted that he shouldn’t look too far ahead once the bracket’s been released. He needs to win in order to get to those matchups.

“That adds to the depth of the bracket,” Brands said. “But we have to be ready to go. With these opponents, if you look ahead a little bit, it’s important you’re aware of what you have — but not much beyond being aware.

“It’s not like you’re dwelling on it. Just be ready to wrestle each match. One match at a time.”

This season, Gilman said his approach to the Midlands isn’t going to change. There’s less pressure, sure, because he’s entrenched as Iowa’s starting 125-pounder, but he’s still in it to win it.

That also means his grandfather should expect another first-place trophy — should Gilman do his job, of course.

“I have to be more focused,” he said. “I have nothing to lose but everything to lose. The mission is the same, to go out there and score points, score a lot of points, wrestle hard, and win the tournament.

“I want to go out there and show that I’m the best guy in the weight class, the best guy in the country, solidify what I say and what I think.”

Follow @codygoodwin on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa wrestling team.

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