THOMAS GILMAN SHINES AT JUNIOR WORLD TEAM TRIALS

Tessa Hursh, Daily Iowan

One of Iowa's brightest stars books a trip to Croatia to compete for freestyle gold.

Thomas Gilman had an up-and-down season as a first-year starter in the Iowa lineup, wresting the 125 lb. spot away from early-season starter Cory Clark after an impressive showing at the 2013 Midlands Championships (where he beat defending NCAA champion Jesse Delgado and Jarred Garnett on his way to a title), before losing it in February after a series of ugly wins (and a shocking upset loss to Minnesota's Sam Brancale).  Gilman returned to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs from a year ago -- and recaptured some of that 2013 magic.

In the challenge tournament, Gilman pinned Nebraska wrestler Tim Lambert in 4:02 in his first match and then advanced to the best 2-of-3 finals after his opponent in the challenge tournament finals (Steven Micic) suffered an injury.  In the best 2-of-3 finals, Gilman met highly-regarded 125er Nathan Thomasello of Ohio State -- a foe Gilman will likely tussle with a few times during the next college season if, as expected, Gilman reclaims Iowa's starting spot at 125 lbs. (assuming Cory Clark moves up to 133 lbs.).  Gilman earned an 8-4 win in the first match of the finals, then ground out a 3-2 win in the second match, securing the overall victory -- and clinching his spot on the U.S. freestyle team that will compete at the Junior World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia in August 5-10.  Well done, Mr. Gilman.

A year ago, Gilman was also the U.S. representative at 55 KG at the Junior World Championships, where he placed a disappointing 8th.  He'll be looking to improve on that showing this year -- and, hopefully, use that performance as a springboard into a strong sophomore campaign for Iowa in 2014-15.  As we say often, freestyle success is not necessarily indicative of folkstyle (i.e., college wrestling) success.  But it sure doesn't hurt.  If nothing else, it's encouraging to see a more aggressive and attack-minded Gilman here; it was frustrating to see Gilman look so passive in many of his matches in January, so hopefully that offensive mindset carries over when he next steps on a college mat.

Gilman was joined at the Junior World Team Trials by two current Iowa teammates (Sam Brooks and Brandon Sorenson) and one future teammate (Sam Stoll).  Brooks, Iowa's expected starter at 184 lbs. next season, won two matches in the challenge tournament and made it to the finals, before falling via 9-5 decision to Gabe Dean.  He also lost an 11-6 decision to Brett Pfarr in the match for true second place after that match.  Sorenson, a potential starter for Iowa at either 149 or 157 lbs. next season, won three matches in the challenge (two via dominating technical falls) before losing to Zain Retherford in the finals.  He also lost a true second place match, falling 7-2 to Jake Short.  (Annoyingly, both Brooks and Sorenson lost to Minnesota wrestlers in their true second place bouts.)  Finally, 2014 Iowa heavyweight recruit Sam Stoll was also in action at this tournament, trying to follow in Gilman's footsteps and book his own repeat trip to the Junior World Championships in the Greco-Roman division.  Alas, he came up short.  After a quick 28-second pinfall win over Matthew Halverson in the challenge "tournament," Stoll lost a pair of matches to Adam Coon in the best 2-of-3 finals.  Still, there's not much shame in Iowa's wrestlers losing to the likes of Dean, Retherford, and Coon -- as freshmen in 2013-14, they were some of the finest wrestlers in college.

Gilman will be joined by several familiar faces on the U.S. Freestyle Team at the World Junior Championships.

FREESTYLE JUNIOR WORLD TEAM
50 KG -- Jabari Moody (N/A -- HS)
55 KG -- Thomas Gilman (Iowa)
60 KG -- Joseph McKenna (Stanford)
66 KG -- Aaron Pico (N/A -- PRO)
74 KG -- Anthony Valencia (N/A -- HS)
84 KG -- Gabe Dean (Cornell)
96 KG -- Kyle Snyder (Ohio State) 
120 KG -- Adam Coon (Michigan)

McKenna was a highly-regarded recruit in 2014 and a guy who we might be hearing from soon in the NCAA ranks.  Dean and Coon were two of the biggest success stories in college wrestling last year, while Snyder was a big-time recruit and is expected to contend for a national title at 197 lbs. immediately.  (Coon, remarkably, made the U.S. team in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines.)  Valencia could be one of the bigger recruits in the 2015 class, while Pico would be a huge recruit for 2016... if he hadn't already turned pro and announced that he would be focusing on freestyle wrestling (and a future MMA career).  He's one hell of a prodigy and may just be Brent Metcalf's biggest threat to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Congrats to all the Iowa wrestlers who competed at the Junior World Team Trials today and best of luck to all the wrestlers who will be representing the U.S. at the Junior World Championships in Croatia in August.  Bring home some hardware, gentlemen.

The Senior World Team Trials (featuring past Hawkeye greats like Tony Ramos and Brent Metcalf) get underway tomorrow; we'll be back with a full preview and open thread for that tomorrow morning.

* * * 
FULL RESULTS FOR IOWA COMPETITORS

GRECO-ROMAN
120 KG (264.5 LB)

Sam Stoll PIN (0:28) Matthew Halverson

BEST 2-OF-3 FINALS

Adam Coon DEC (5-0) Sam Stoll
Adam Coon FALL (5:48) Sam Stoll

FREESTYLE
55 KG (121.5 LB)

Thomas Gilman PIN (4:02) Tim Lambert
Thomas Gilman INJ DEF (1:05) Steven Micic

BEST 2-OF-3 FINALS

Thomas Gilman DEC (8-4) Nathan Thomasello
Thomas Gilman DEC (3-2) Nathan Thomasello

66 KG

Brandon Sorenson TECH FALL (13-0) Zac Hall
Brandon Sorenson FALL (5:43) Jared Reis
Brandon Sorenson TECH FALL (13-3) Alexander Richardson
Zain Retherford TECH FALL (11-1) Brandon Sorenson
Jake Short DEC (7-2) Brandon Sorenson

84 KG

Sam Brooks TECH FALL (11-0) Mitch Sliga
Sam Brooks DEC (7-4) Jack Dechow
Gabe Dean DEC (9-5) Sam Brooks
Brett Pfarr DEC (11-6) Sam Brooks

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