Daniel Dennis frustrated with Olympic wrestling defeat

Former Hawkeye has not decided if he will continue competing

Daniel Dennis of the United States pauses during his match against Vladimir Dubov of Bulgaria on Friday during men’s freestyle wrestling at Carioca Arena 2 in Rio de Janeiro. Dubov won, 11-0. (USA Today Sports)
Daniel Dennis of the United States pauses during his match against Vladimir Dubov of Bulgaria on Friday during men’s freestyle wrestling at Carioca Arena 2 in Rio de Janeiro. Dubov won, 11-0. (USA Today Sports)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Daniel Dennis felt great.

His training went well and his weight cut went smoothly.

But Dennis barely had an opportunity to break a sweat during his first Olympic Games experience.

World silver medalist Vladimir Dubov of Bulgaria scored an early takedown and then followed with a succession of four two-point gut wrenches to finish off an 11-0 win Friday morning before 6,000 fans at Carioca Arena 2.

The first-round match at 125 pounds lasted just 89 seconds.

Dennis was eliminated when Dubov came up short of advancing to the finals.

“It was frustrating ... extremely frustrating,” said Dennis, a past NCAA runner-up for the Iowa Hawkeyes. “Obviously he’s a good wrestler and he very well could have been in the finals. I felt like I was in control of the match, but it just didn’t happen. That’s really frustrating.”

Dennis said he felt strong during the opening stages of the match.

“I felt like I was moving well and doing what I needed to on my feet,” Dennis said. “I probably didn’t continue doing that after he was warned. It’s the Olympics and everyone is pretty good in all areas. He capitalized when he got on top of me and finished the match off.”

Just reaching an Olympic Games was quite an accomplishment for Dennis, who had stepped away from wrestling at the end of the last Olympic cycle in 2012.

Dennis was approached about giving wrestling another shot early last year and he eventually returned to Iowa City to train full-time again at the University of Iowa’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Dennis placed second at the 2015 U.S. World Team Trials at 134 pounds before he moved down to the Olympic weight class of 125 this season.

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Dennis beat 2012 Olympians Coleman Scott and Sam Hazewinkel in the U.S. Nationals before he swept two-time World Team member and Hawkeye NCAA champion Tony Ramos to win the Olympic Trials in April.

“I don’t see it as an amazing feat,” Dennis said. “It just made sense at the time and it made sense for me to come back. I decided to come back to wrestling a year and a half ago and here I am now.”

Dennis didn’t commit to whether he was going to keep competing. He said he will stay at Iowa and work with current Hawkeye All-Americans Thomas Gilman and Cory Clark.

“I’m excited to work with those guys,” Dennis said. “Those guys are amazing wrestlers and I could definitely see those guys wrestling on this stage at some point.”

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