IOWA CITY — University of Iowa has hosted many marquee wrestling events.
The successes have included Big Ten and NCAA Championships and record-setting Olympic Team Trials.
For two days, the best wrestlers on the top teams in the world will descend on Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the United World Wrestling Men’s Freestyle World Cup. The eight top countries will arrive for the two-day dual competition April 7- 8.
Team USA will wrestle in pool A against Japan, Georgia and a team yet to be announced (Iran has pulled out of the event). Pool B currently consists of Russia, Azerbaijan, Cuba, and Kazakhstan. Competition begins at 10 a.m. both days. Saturday’s second starts at 2 p.m. Sunday will have medal-round duals at noon and concludes with the gold medal meet at 4 p.m.
“International wrestling is awesome because you have a chance to display your abilities and talents on the wrestling mat for the entire world to see,” said Terry Brands, Iowa’s associate head wrestling coach, two-time World champion and Olympic bronze medalist. “It’s the pinnacle. It’s something true competitors want to do. They want to be a part of that.”
The Hawkeyes will be represented on the mat by 2017 World silver medalist Thomas Gilman, who helped Team USA edge Russia for the team title at the World Championships last August.
Gilman, the current U.S. World team member at 125.5, was a three-time All-American and NCAA finalist for the Hawkeyes, posting a 30-3 record in CHA. He continued his successful freestyle career in his first senior-level World Championships, adding to his Junior Worlds bronze medal in 2014.
“It’s going to be exciting to wrestle in front of my home fans again, Iowa fans, but I’m kind of moving on in my career beyond wrestling in Carver and in front of Iowa fans but in front of the U.S. fans and the worldwide audience,” Gilman said. “I think bringing that worldwide audience and Team USA to Carver-Hawkeye Arena is going to be good for the town.”
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Iowa has led NCAA in attendance for 12 straight seasons. Hawkeye fans are among the most knowledgeable fan bases in the country, making CHA a hotbed for competition. Many international fans resemble the Iowa faithful and can add to the electric atmosphere promised.
“I think so,” Brands said. “I think the fans that will be here internationally understand wrestling. They know their people. They know their sport.
Gilman will be joined in the starting lineup by Kendric Maple (134), Logan Stieber (143), World medalist James Green (154), Olympic and World champion Jordan Burroughs (163), Cornell four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake at 174, David Taylor (189), Olympic medalist J’Den Cox (202.5), Olympic and World champion Kyle Snyder (213), who just finished his career as a three-time NCAA champion at Ohio State and Nick Gwiazdowski at 275.
Ten weight classes allows for more of Team USA’s talent to compete, avoiding a logjam with fewer weights during the Olympic Games.
“In the Olympic year, they are going to have to come together or figure out how they are going to be able to make that work, but right now in the middle of the cycle in between with the World Cup, we’ve got an extremely tough, tough lineup,” Brands said. “It’s going to be hard for any world power to deal with it.”
The full roster was released Monday. Among the alternates for Team USA are two Iowa natives. Iowa State NCAA champion and former Waterloo East prep Kyven Gadsen was added to 213 behind Snyder. Former Clear Lake prep and University of Northern Iowa All-American Joe Colon, who is now a member of the Fresno State coaching staff and wrestles for Valley RTC, is at 134.
According to USA Wrestling, the U.S. World Cup Team boasts three Olympic medals, 13 Senior World medals, eight age-group World medals and 30 NCAA Division I national titles.
“We can talk about talent all day,” Gilman said. “It’s nice to have that talent but we’ve got to go out there and perform, so I think we have a good team to go out there and win it, but we have to go out there and perform.”
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Tickets are still available. All-session ticket packages begin at $75. The Black all-session packages are $150, which includes tickets, parking pass, souvenir program and souvenir ticket and lanyard. The Gold all-session package includes preferred seating within 10 rows of the mats, in addition to the black package items.
More information can be found at WorldCupIowaCity.com.
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