AMES — Instead of stepping back on the mat, Iowa State’s Austin Gomez is stepping away from competition.
Gomez and the school announced Monday he will medically retire from wrestling due to multiple injuries and health concerns. Gomez, a 2019 NCAA qualifier, missed all of last season due to lingering effects from a concussion and received a medical hardship waiver.
“I had to sit down with myself, our athletic trainer, doctors, coaches and my family to make this decision,” Gomez said in the news release. “Although I feel like I have so much more fight left in me, my health has to come first when dealing with this injury. I thought I’d wrestle until my body told me I couldn’t do it anymore, but God has a different plan for me than I did for myself.
“Wrestling has taken me so far in life and I can’t thank the Iowa State staff for everything they have done for me while being able to compete.”
Gomez had originally committed to former Iowa State Coach Kevin Jackson, who was replaced by Kevin Dresser in 2017. Dresser concentrated on securing the three-time Illinois state champion’s commitment, driving to his home in Carol Stream, Ill. Gomez became the first key piece for Dresser’s rebuilding efforts.
“We want nothing but the best for Austin,” Dresser said in the same announcement. “His health and well-being is first and foremost. Although we only saw him on the mat for a short period of time, he brought all of us a lot of excitement with his style of wrestling. We look forward to his continued involvement in our program and the impact he will have on his teammates.”
Gomez became a fan favorite with his aggressive style and knack to score points, tallying 11 bonus-point victories with three pins and four technical falls as a freshman. The 133-pounder posted a 24-7 mark that year, reaching the round of 12 at the NCAA tournament, falling one victory shy of All-American status.
Gomez also was a national freestyle champion and made the 2018 Junior World Team.
Even though his competitive career has come to an end, Gomez plans to remain involved in the sport.
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“Wrestling has taught me so much in life when it comes to discipline, toughness, accountability and so much more,” he said. “It has made me into the man I am today. I can’t thank my dad enough for introducing me to this sport and teaching me what I love to do.
“The next step is to teach what I learned about this sport to kids and other wrestlers around the country. My plan is to stick around the Iowa State wrestling program for as long as I can and support my team and help them accomplish their goals.
“It was a good run, but I’m excited for the next chapter in my life.”