By Courtney Baumann | email@example.com
EVANSTON, Ill. – Thomas Gilman became a three-time Midlands champion tonight, won the award for most team points out of anyone in the tournament, was voted Champion of Champions, and was chosen for the Dan Gable Outstanding Wrestler Award, but he doesn’t really care. Honestly.
Maybe when he’s old and talking about his accolades and awards with his children and grandchildren those titles will matter a little more he said, but right now it’s nothing special. It’s preparation for nationals.
“To be frank… it’s the Midlands, it’s great and all, but it’s just another tournament,” Gilman said. “Right now, I’m working on getting better every minute, every match.”
He took advantage of the wrestling he saw at the 54th annual tournament. Gilman went 6-0, recording a fall, three technical falls, a decision, and a major decision along the way.
The senior competed against two Big Ten rivals, Wisconsin’s Jens Lantz in the third round and Nebraska’s Tim Lambert in the championship match.
Perhaps his biggest competition of the tournament – maybe even the season so far – was Josh Terao of American. The sophomore who was a four-time state champion in Hawaii held Gilman to an 8-6 win. It was the first time in 2016 that Gilman scored fewer than 19 points in a match where he did not pin his opponent.
While Gilman tried to hold on for the win with just a few seconds left in the semifinal match, the American wrestler hit him in the face with a cheap shot, according to Gilman.
Head coach Tom Brands had to get out on the mat and stop Gilman from doing anything he would regret. Competitors know what will get to Gilman, and they’re going to do what they can to get in his head, Brands said.
“Props to him, he’s elusive… But, you know what, next time it’s going to be a lot worse. I might talk to him before the match and say, ‘Hey, if you want to get rough, we’ll get rough. That’s fine. There’s a parking lot out here… I won’t tell anyone,’” Gilman said. “Yeah maybe I was stalling there at the end… but if you’re going to be a tough guy, be a tough guy the whole dang match.”
Gilman wasn’t the only one who got a little chippy during one of matches.
At the end of regulation in Michael Kemerer’s championship bout – which went into two sudden victories and two tiebreaker rounds – he and Nebraska’s Tyler Berger got into a scuffle about an takedown in favor of Berger that was waived off as time expired in the third period.
Topher Carton actually had to stop Gilman from running onto the mat to stick up for his teammate.
The extra time worked out in Kemerer’s favor, and he was the third Hawkeye to be crowned a 2016 Midlands champion – Brandon Sorensen was the second, taking the title for the second straight year at 149.
Kemerer said he and Berger had nothing but kind words to say to each other at the end of the match.
“[We said] ‘Good job, great match, and love to do it again sometime,’” Kemerer said.
It’s safe to say he was being just a bit sarcastic.
Brands doesn’t blame his guys for how they fought, though.
“I wake up to a war everyday,” Brands said. “All this drama going on, it isn’t anything out of the ordinary for me. We fight for our guys, and we don’t apologize for it.”
On top of the three champions, Iowa had six more finishers in the top-7.
The Hawkeyes won the team title for the fourth straight year. They will return to action Jan. 6, when they head to Michigan to take on the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
IOWA TOP-8 FINISHERS
FINAL TOP-10 TEAM SCORES
Follow @cbomb12 and @DI_Sports_Desk for Iowa wrestling updates, news, and analysis.