It took four long years, years marked by stirring wins, dominant performances, and countless heartbreaks in tournaments, but on Saturday night in Oklahoma City, Tony Ramos finally claimed the national championship that he'd been craving since the arrived at Iowa. Ramos beat long-time rival Tyler Graff of Wisconsin in the championship final, edging a 3-1 win in the tiebreaker portion of overtime. Ramos beat Graff two weeks ago in the finals of the Big Ten Tournament to claim his first Big Ten Championship; two weeks later he repeated the feat to claim his first NCAA Championship.
Like that previous match with Graff, Ramos managed to secure the victory without netting a takedown. In the match in Madison, Ramos put on a hard ride from the top position and used that riding time point, plus a second-period escape, to win 2-1. Here, Ramos and Graff were tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, with both points coming from escapes. There was no scoring in the sudden victory overtime period. In the first tiebreaker, Ramos was unable to secure an escape against Graff, shifting the advantage in the match to Graff. But in the second tiebreaker, as Graff began rolling on the mat in an attempt to escape, Ramos reacted quickly and crushed Graff down, exposing his back to the mat and getting a two-count for two critical, match-winning nearfall points. The call was reviewed by the officials, but the call on the mat (two nearfall points) stood. And with that, Tony Ramos became a national champion, the 52nd in Iowa history.
Iowa Hawkeyes (@TheIowaHawkeyes) March 23, 2014
The only complaint with this match would be that it, like many of Ramos' other matches during his championship run in Oklahoma City, displayed a much more conservative and cagey Ramos than Iowa fans had come to know and love. Ramos won over Iowa fans with an aggressive, attack-heavy style that emphasized constant action and frequent shots and takedowns. That Ramos wasn't seen all that often in Oklahoma City -- although it should be noted that Ramos wrestled several wrestlers (Lehigh's Mason Beckman, Edinboro's A.J. Schopp, Graff) who are notoriously difficult to score on. But if that's all we can quibble about, that's alright. It would have been a terrible disappointment had Tony Ramos' Iowa career ended without a national championship -- he brought Iowa fans so much joy and won with verve and style so often that just seeing him finally claim that elusive national title is enormously satisfying.
Congratulations on a well-deserved championship, Tony, and thanks for all the memories you gave us while wearing the black and gold. We'll miss seeing your bravado, your boundless self-confidence, your pre-match staredowns, your post-match flexes, and all the fireworks in-between. Great job, Tony. I'll recap Iowa's full performance at the NCAA Tournament later; for now, let's just celebrate Ramos' long-awaited championship.
Tony Ramos 133 lb king. NCAA Champion.
— Tom Brands (@TomBrandsHAWK) March 23, 2014