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MADISON, Wis. — Eric Thompson is heading to a new home in hopes of reaching new heights.
His latest performance provided a bit of optimism as he begins full-time training for an international wrestling career.
The former Waverly-Shell Rock two-time state champion and three-time NAIA champion at Grand View went 1-2 against the nation’s top heavyweights at the ASICS U.S. Freestyle World Team Trials this weekend at Alliant Energy Center.
“I don’t think it was a bad performance for me,” Thompson said. Obviously, you want to do better and win. That is the goal, but I think I outfought guys, wrestle hard.”
Thompson opened with an 11-9 win over University of Wisconsin, hanging with top-seeded Dom Bradley before losing in the semifinals and then lost to Jarod Trice in the consolation round.
“I got a measuring stick of what I need to improve on and things I need to do moving forward,” Thompson said. “I need to get better. That is the bottom line when you leave a tournament.”
The trials provide a cornerstone to build on as his career progresses. Thompson said he thought the tournament showed he was right with the best, even though he had only spent a week and a half at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and trained with undersized partners and coaches at Grand View.
“It’s tough to get used to right away, wrestling a guy like Dom Bradley who is 290,” Thompson said. “He’s a big guy.
“I look forward to making those adjustments.”
Thompson left the tournament and will soon be leaving for Pennsylvania, joining the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club. He made strides when he was at Grand View after beginning his career with Iowa State. Thompson expects more of the same in the future.
“I think I did some things this weekend that show I’m definitely right there,” said Thompson, whose future in-laws lived about 90 minutes of State College, Pa. “I know I’m going to keep improving.”
Gilman retains spot
University of Iowa red-shirt freshman Thomas Gilman will once again represent the U.S. Junior Freestyle World Team.
Gilman, who earned the 121-pound spot last year, swept Nathan Tomasello in the championship series for the chance to represent the U.S. Aug. 5-10 in Croatia.
“It’s awesome,” Gilman said. “It’s a little different from last year. I feel like last year Trials were a bigger deal than they should have been to win it. This year I’m really using the trials as a steppingstone to really accomplish what I need to and that is getting a world title.”
The experience at last year’s World Championships and the recent trials benefit Gilman. The ability to earn a world medal relies more in his mind than with his body.
“Just mentally, knowing I am the best guy in the world and I have the tools to be the best guy in the world,” Gilman said. “I have to use that when I put it all out on the mat and none of them can hang with me, if I just wrestle.”
Gilman finished 16-3, alternating with All-American Cory Clark as the 125-pound starter for the Hawkeyes. He is one of three possible members on U.S. Freestyle World Teams from the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. He doesn’t prefer one discipline over another.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Gilman said. “It’s the same. You look like it from a tactical position. You have to go out there and win positions and score points and wrestle hard.”
This weekend’s U.S. World Team Trials is just the first phase of the 2014 World Team competition.
Phase II will be held during the Junior Nationals at Fargo, N.D. Two weights in men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman will be decided at that time.
Wrestlers at 134 and 154 will compete for World Team spots in men’s freestyle on July 24. Greco-Roman will wrestle for spots at 156 and 176 on July 22. Women’s freestyle will leadoff with senior action at 121 and 132 on July 19.
Greco-Roman competition was not held simultaneously with the freestyle event for the first time. The Greco-Roman U.S. World Team Trials open June 13 and will be held at Daytona Beach, Fla.
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