Finally a Golden Boy

March 10, 2014

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.


MADISON, Wis. — Of the 115 career victories for University of Iowa senior 133-pound wrestler Tony Ramos, 36 have come by fall, 24 by major decision, and 13 by technical fall.

And now he promises to really open up.

That announcement came Sunday, minutes after Ramos defeated Tyler Graff of Wisconsin, 2-1, to win his first Big Ten Conference individual championship. The previous two seasons he finished second in the league to Logan Stieber of Ohio State.

“I’m relieved, the stress is gone a little bit and I can relax,” said Ramos, who placed second and third at the last two national tournaments. “Maybe now I’ll wrestle a little more open and not so tight like `I have to win this, I have to win this.'”

Ramos has always been successful on the mat, but most of the medals around his neck have been silver or bronze. Now he adds conference gold to the collection.

“He has a Big Ten championship, let’s keep adding to that,” UI head coach Tom Brands said. “He is finding ways to win. Now it’s on to the thing everybody in America is shooting for — the national championship.”

“I’m relieved, the stress is gone a little bit and I can relax. Maybe now I’ll wrestle a little more open and not so tight like `I have to win this, I have to win this.'”
Tony Ramos
Big Ten Champion

The road to gold for Ramos at the Big Ten Tournament was paved with a pin against Michigan’s Rossi Bruno in 1:33, a 7-6 decision against Purdue’s Cashe Quiroga, and the 2-1 win against Graff. Ramos entered the 2014 league championship with a record of 16-1 against other competitors in the field. The only loss was to Graff, 3-1 in overtime, in the 2011 Big Ten Tournament eventually won by Andrew Long of Penn State. Ramos defeated Graff twice last season — in the semifinals at conference and nationals.

During Ramos-Graff IV, Ramos won without collecting a takedown; he rode Graff most of the third period.

“I knew going into it I had to adjust, drop my hips back, ride the ankle, ride the leg,” Ramos said. “They’re going to hit me for stalling, they’re going to boo…let them say what they want, I’m the one walking out of here with a title.”

For a little guy known for big moves, Ramos rode his way to this gold medal, a strategy that gives Graff and the rest of the country something to consider when the NCAA Championship is held March 20-22 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

“I guess it’s weird that I won riding on top and not getting a takedown, but I didn’t want it to go overtime,” Ramos said. “I wanted to win this one in regulation so it’s more in his head. He knows I can ride him and take him down and he can’t score on me. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do at nationals.”

Ramos is 27-2 this season with losses to A.J. Schopp of Edinboro (3-2) and Joe Colon of Northern Iowa (fall). Since losing to Colon in the finals of the 2013 Midlands, Ramos has won 13 in a row, five by fall.

“Stuff happens like that, you just have to work and build from it,” Ramos said of the loss to Colon. “It wasn’t the national tournament, so it is good it happened there. He might have a Midlands bracket, but he knows I’m coming for that NCAA championship.”

Earlier in the week, Ramos said there were two things missing from his resume. He secured one of them against Graff in front of a pro-Graff crowd in the Kohl Center.

“I heard the (official) on the outside counting down (the final) 10 (seconds),” Ramos said. “I knew I had to keep wrestling, keep wrestling, stay in the center. A huge weight was lifted. I finally got my name on that side of the wall (in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex reserved for Big Ten champions); now I need to add an asterisk on the other side.”

An asterisk by your name in the Hawkeye wrestling room indicates NCAA champion. A more confident and wide open Ramos appears on track to accomplish goal No. 2.

CHAMPIONSHIP NOTE — Ramos is the third University of Iowa wrestler to win a conference championship at 133 pounds since the weight class was lowered from 134 pounds in 1999. The other Hawkeye 133-pound champions are Eric Juergens (2000, 01) and Cliff Moore (2003). Seven Hawkeyes have won 13 titles at 134, including current head coach Tom Brands (1991, 92) and radio analyst Mark Ironside (1995, 96, 97, 98).