Aug. 6, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Tom Brands credits determination. Terry Brands credits discipline. Junior National Champion Thomas Gilman credits his coaches.
In the end, you can’t discredit any of them.
Gilman, who will be a redshirt freshman for the University of Iowa next season, will represent the United States in the 55 kg bracket at the 2013 FILA Junior World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Aug. 18. He earned a spot on the U.S. World Team by sweeping Nathan Tomasello 6-1, 7-2, in the finals of the World Team Trials on June 23.
He has been on the international stage before, splitting four matches at the FILA Cadet World Championships in 2011. But this year, after 12 months of scratching and clawing for every inch in the Iowa wrestling room, Gilman is ready for the spotlight.
“I’m way more prepared than I was in 2011,” said Gilman, who posted a 23-5 record wrestling unattached last season. “Our work throughout this last training cycle has been unbelievable. We’re getting in here and working hard, and I have great workout partners, world class workout partners, which was missing two years ago.
“I’m ready to go out there and get a gold medal. I’m not going out there for the experience. I’m going over there to fight and scrap until my hand is raised and I’m on top of that podium.”
Tom Brands believes the junior national champion is ready for battle.
“He knows how to fight and he knows how to get ready,” said Tom Brands, a three-time World Team member on the senior circuit. “He’s very determined and he realizes it’s a process. He knows because of his effort today he’ll be better tomorrow. He knows what he wants and he knows how to work for it.”
Terry Brands, also a three-time World Team Member, says that level of awareness is why Gilman is traveling a narrow path toward his final goal.
“He is a competitor who goes about his business the right way in both wrestling and life,” said Terry Brands. “He governs his wrestling on the mat and off. He is extremely disciplined. “
That focus helped Gilman capture four Nebraska state titles from 2009-12. But state titles are a dime a dozen in the Iowa wrestling room, so Gilman says he sometimes relies on his coaches to fuel the fire.
“Everyone in this room has the instinct to fight,” Gilman said. “It’s just a matter of how hard and how long we’re willing to fight. Tom and Terry get that out of us. I’m willing to fight for any score, do anything it takes to keep my head high and my hand raised at the end of the day.”
Terry Brands, who won gold medals at the World Championships in 1993 and 1995, says he sees no reason why Gilman wouldn’t expect to come out on top.
“He’s smart. There are things you don’t see in the states that he is aware of. He needs to go out there and feel it, and stay good and solid. In our mind he’s a favorite,” said Terry Brands.
“I know what to expect,” added Gilman, who said his 2011 experience at the cadet level should provide a measure of comfort.
“You know how the refs are, you know what the atmosphere is like, and you have Tom and Terry here to work with you in certain situations where you know they’re good. I have to be ready for anything.”
The 2013 FILA Junior World Championships run Aug. 13-18 at the Arena Armeetz in Sofia, Bulgaria. Gilman’s 55 kg freestyle bracket will be contested Sunday, Aug. 18. Gilman’s Hawkeye teammate, Sammy Brooks, will represent Team USA in the 84 kg bracket on the same day.