Gilman takes pride in pushing the pace


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Midway through Iowa’s 25-12 win over Illinois on Jan. 16, a disturbingly bad smell settled down underneath Carver-Hawkeye Arena. We’re talking absolutely putrid, like a toilet backed up or a sewage pipe busted. It was bad.

There was only speculation about what caused the air to reek — some say a trash bag ripped and its contents spilled out — but it did allow Thomas Gilman to crack a joke.

“It smells like someone frickin’ puked in this hallway,” he said. “I don’t know whose match it was, but we freaking pushed the pace so much, we made some guy puke and stink up all of frickin’ Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“We take a lot of pride in that.”

All told, the quip was well-timed, if only because Gilman was answering a question about dictating the pace in his matches. His wrestling style would make Dan Gable proud; he is relentless in his pursuit of his opponent — and the results, as of this writing, speak for themselves.

Gilman, ranked fifth at 125 pounds by Flowrestling, is 18-1 so far this season, and 14 of those wins have come in bonus-point fashion. His 39 dual points scored are second-most on the team, trailing only Bobby Telford’s 44. He’s scored 184 match points in those 19 bouts, good for an average of 9.7 per outing — and that doesn’t include his totals before he secured his four pins.

Even more, the sophomore from Council Bluffs has produced another staggering figure in his last three matches — 20 times he’s pushed his opponent out of bounds, further proof that pushing the pace only leads to success.

“You see it in the room first, and then it starts to show up out in the match,” Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands said. “When you come out with the mindset that you’re going to put a lot of points on the board, good things happen.

“The pace is high. The opponent doesn’t know which way to turn or which way is up, and that’s what you want.”

Brands, along with others, say Gilman’s wrestling has progressed tremendously since last year. He exudes a confidence that wasn’t as noticeable during his 2013-14 campaign. Part of that is simply the experience of having gone another year through the program, but another reason is the time and work he’s put into his training throughout the last year.

In addition to his normal off-season workouts, Gilman also wrestled freestyle, one of the Olympic styles. He qualified for the FILA Junior World Team and won a bronze medal at 55 kilograms — roughly 121 pounds —in Zagreb, Croatia, at the Junior World Championships.

That kind of experience can instill confidence in a wrestler, but it can also teach a lot. The rules of freestyle wrestling lend itself to wrestling more in the neutral position, which means it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Gilman has scored 52 takedowns in Iowa’s nine duals this season.

“The thing about Gilman is that he doesn’t have just one form of offense,” said Mark Ironside, the Iowa wrestling color guy for Learfield Sports. “He can attack from a lot of different positions. The shot he took against [Dominic] Olivieri of Illinois — that first shot he took was a fantastic shot because it wasn’t a shot that wasn’t picture perfect. He needed to create some offense off the first whistle right away instead of getting caught up in a hand-fighting game.

“He forced a shot, not in a bad way, because he made something happen, and that’s what I really like about Thomas Gilman. He was able to pull that trigger right away, make something happen, and it was just a snowball effect of offense and attacks from there.”

Gilman’s next task, of course, is enforcing his style on the nation’s best 125 pounders. He’s wrestled just one guy ranked above him so far this season: Virginia Tech’s Joey Dance, who beat Gilman at the Midlands in overtime, 3-1.

It is a task that won’t be easy, Gilman said, but he added that, with the right mindset, he can beat anybody in the country. And if he pushes them off the mat, he knows those crazy Black and Gold fans will support him with raining boos and pleas for stalling.

“I’m smiling now, but I don’t realize it at the time,” Gilman said. “The only thing I hear [during the match] is the corner. If I’m hearing the crowd boo, then I’m not focused, but it’s pretty exciting that the fans get involved.

“They know what’s going on. That makes me happy.”

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

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