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 — The list of world-class wrestlers is long, and on April 7-8 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the list starts with Thomas Gilman.
Gilman is the catalyst at the top of a Team USA lineup that aims to win the 2018 United World Wrestling World Cup. The event pits the United States against seven of the top wrestling countries from around the world. It starts April 7 at 10 a.m. (CT) against Japan, and for the U.S., it starts with Gilman.
The 2017 world silver medalist is batting leadoff (57 kg/125.5) for a 10-man lineup that includes a combined 15 world and Olympic medals.
“It’s a great team,” Gilman said. “We had a great team going to the World Championships, but we have two more guys in the World Cup and it is an honor to start this off. I called myself a trailblazer in college and this is no different.”
The land is not new to Gilman. He was 30-3 all-time at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and earned three All-America honors wrestling at the top of Iowa’s lineup from 2015-17. The scenery, however, is unique. The in-state and Big Ten rivals from his college days are gone, replaced by wrestlers who have proven themselves as the best on the planet.
“Every opponent is good and every opponent is different in the sense that they grew up in different cultures,” Gilman said. “They try to play different mind games with you. It’s important to be extra ready to go every time because I know I’m wrestling a world-class guy, whether it’s a World Champion or not. The level of competition is high.”
Carver-Hawkeye Arena, long considered to be among the best wrestling venues in the world, is hosting an international wrestling event for the first time. The arena has hosted Big Ten and NCAA Championships, the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials, and has led the NCAA in attendance for 12 straight seasons.
If wrestling lives at Carver, it is because of the fans pumping blood through the body of the sport.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Gilman said. “I don’t think those guys (from other countries) are going to like it. They’re going to like the environment, but they’re not going to like those Hawk fans.”
Gilman has benefited from the lore of Carver before, and he may need it again. Yuki Takahashi leads Japan, the United States’ first round opponent. Takahashi defeated Gilman in the 2017 World Championships gold medal match.
“That is something I’m excited about, that our fans are probably excited about,” Gilman said. “It’s going to be awesome having my hometown crowd behind me and supporting me. It’s going to be a great time.”
For more information about the World Cup, including a schedule of events, Gable’s Garden, and participating countries, visit WorldCupIowaCity.com. All-session ticket packages start at $75. Black all-session packages are available for $150, and Gold all-session packages are $225.