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 DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Thomas Gilman was in Nick Suriano’s wrestling shoes five years ago. Both dominated high school competition before enrolling in elite college wrestling programs — Gilman to the University of Iowa, Suriano to Penn State — ready to make a splash on the national scene at 125 pounds.
Top-ranked and undefeated Gilman (17-0) faces No. 3 and undefeated Suriano (11-0) in one of many marquee head-to-head bouts Friday when the Hawkeyes host the Nittany Lions on Mediacom Mat inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Gilman is 26-3 at home and his 17-match winning streak is second on the team to freshman Michael Kemerer’s 19 victories in a row.
“I have to win this match no matter what,” Gilman said. “It doesn’t matter if we win this dual or lose the dual or the sky falls or it stays where it’s at. I have to win this match no matter what. That’s my mission.”
Iowa (7-1) is ranked third in the national team rankings, Penn State (7-0) is second.
Gilman has never faced Suriano, a true freshman, although he has a 3-3 record against opponents from Penn State. Gilman was 3-0 against Jordan Conaway and 0-3 against Nico Megaludis, the last bout coming in the finals of the 2016 NCAA Championships in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“It’s another opponent, another victim,” Gilman said. “It is just another body, another human being someone has put in front of me. That gets me fired up, that’s all I need.”
Of Gilman’s 17 victories this season, seven have come by fall, six by technical fall, and three by major decision. Suriano has won one by fall and five by major decision.
Gilman’s 12-4 major decision over No. 11 Nick Piccininni of Oklahoma State on Jan. 15 gave the Hawkeyes a 4-0 lead in a dual they lost, 24-11. A fast start by Gilman and Iowa will be essential against the Nittany Lions.
“Gilman has been a spark plug,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “Their guy is doing well, too. They like their guy. We love it when Gilman gets us going and he likes to get us going as well. That’s how he looks at his job.”
A two-time All-American, Gilman owns a 92-11 career record. Suriano has 11 college bouts under his belt — 92 fewer than the battle-tested Gilman. Suriano has 19 takedowns and has been taken down just once.
“We’ll see how tough he is to take down. He’s a strong kid, but he’s a kid,” Gilman said. “I don’t know how tough he is on his feet. I’m known for wrestling on my feet — I have been doing it for five years in the college arena. He has been doing it for a month or two.”
Iowa leads the all-time series against Penn State, 27-8-2. The Hawkeyes have won six of the last eight meetings, including the last time they met in 2015 at Penn State (18-12). Friday’s dual begins at 8 p.m. (CT) and will be televised by BTN. To purchase tickets, click HERE.
“I say let’s do it,” Gilman said. “If you want to dance, let’s dance.”