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. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By CHRIS BREWER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Thomas Gilman is a history major turned history subject.
The University of Iowa senior joined a short list of Hawkeye elite Dec. 30 when he won the 125-pound title at the Ken Craft Midlands Championships.
It was the third Midlands title of Gilman’s career. He won championships as a redshirt freshman in 2013 and as a junior in 2015, and his third title put him in a group that includes just 10 other Hawkeyes who have won three or more Midlands crowns. The others include Joe Williams (10), Tim Cysweski (5), Mark Ironside (4), Royce Alger (3), Ed Banach (3), Chris Campbell (3), Jim Heffernan (3), Randy Lewis (3), Brent Metcalf (3), and Chuck Yagla (3).
That list includes Olympic gold medalists, United States World Team members, and multi-NCAA champions. Gilman hasn’t reached those heights yet, but he’s moving forward as fast as any other wrestler this season.
“When you have success it’s easier to move forward,” Gilman said after the Midlands finals. “Tom Brands talks about it all the time; whether you win or not you have to move forward, but it’s easier when you succeed, especially at a tournament like Midlands. It’s a tough tournament and if you come out on top it gives you confidence moving forward.”
Gilman, the nation’s top-ranked wrestler at 125, is 14-0 with six pins, six technical falls, and one major decision. He dominated Midlands to the tune of one pin, one major decision, and three technical falls. He was voted Champion of Champions by his fellow first-place finishers and named the Dan Gable Most Outstanding Wrestler.
He is the first Hawkeye since Mark Perry in 2007 to be named Champion of Champions, and the first since Brent Metcalf in 2009 to be named Dan Gable Outstanding Wrestler.
“It’s not about the win, it’s how you win,” Gilman said. “I can win. I can win against anyone, but it’s how I beat those guys that matters… if I’m doing the right things, I’m trying to get the most out of myself all the time and if I get the most out of myself the team race will take care of itself.”
Gilman took care of his bracket at Midlands, and the Hawkeyes took care of the team title for the fourth year in a row behind a strong performance up and down the lineup.
“The team title is important,” said Brands, “but three champions, two third-place finishes, having two true freshmen place, and nine placers overall, that’s what’s important.”
Midlands was the start of a four-week stretch that includes road duals at Michigan, Michigan State, and top-ranked Oklahoma State, and home duals against No. 2 Penn State and No. 4 Ohio State.
“We have to be ready to go,” Brands said. “We have to be ready for a team (Michigan), going into Cliff Keen Arena, that’s going to do what they can to derail us.”
Iowa and Michigan meet Friday at 6 p.m. (CT) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The dual is televised live on BTN.