IOWA CITY — Kyven Gadson has a strong connection to Iowa City.
Even though he is more associated with Waterloo and Ames, where he was a two-time state champion for East High School and then won an NCAA title for Iowa State, the Cyclone Wrestling club member was born at University of Iowa Hospitals. He also attended Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling practices as a young child with his late father, Willie.
“I’m excited to be here,” Gadson said in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex at Carver-Hawkeye Arena during USA Wrestling’s media availability Tuesday. “It’s home in a sense. Although Waterloo is where I call my hometown this is home in a sense, so I’m happy to be here (and) representing everything I represent.”
Gadson is among 20 wrestlers on Team USA’s roster for the 2018 World Cup tournament Saturday and Sunday at CHA. Gadson is the alternate at 213 pounds for the dual-meet event, beginning at 10 a.m. both days.
“It’s awesome. It’s a great opportunity,” said Gadson, who competed here for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. “I was reading something (Tuesday) that said there is a difference between sensing an opportunity and seizing an opportunity. As of right now, I’m an alternate for the team but if I have an opportunity I plan to seize it.”
USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick was competing for the Hawkeyes when Gadson would accompany his father to watch practices. Zadick has witnessed that young kid grow into a U.S. National Team member and U.S. Open champion.
“We have a lot of history,” Zadick said. “I remember Willie walking in the room, holding hands with this little toddler, who was about up to his knee and now I’m almost up to Kyven’s knee.
“He’s a big kid. He’s developed well and he’s a great champion, so we’re excited to have him as part of our team.”
Willie Gadson was an All-American at Iowa State and was a successful coach at the high school and college level. He coached his son to three state finals appearances at East, but died during Kyven’s run as a three-time Big 12 champion for the Cyclones.
The younger Gadson said faith and family have been instrumental in his growth as a wrestler.
“My family has been a great support,” Gadson said. “My mom (Augusta) is obviously here. My dad isn’t here, per se, with me anymore in a physical nature, but I know the lessons that he taught me growing up and those stick with me.”
Olympic and World champion Kyle Snyder is the starter at 213. Snyder is coming off his third NCAA title and fourth national finals appearance for Ohio State. The only time he didn’t win it was when Gadson capped his third All-American finish for the Cyclones with a fall for the 197 title in 2015.
Gadson said he feels good about earning a spot, considering it the result of his hard work.
“It does, because it shows that the work being put in, the sacrifices, the commitment and the dedication to the details are paying off, so that’s progress,” the 2016 University Nationals champion said. “I always like progress.”
Gadson said he has developed a more businesslike approach to his wrestling. He had to learn how to be a professional, making the adjustment from his time as a successful prep and college competitor.
“There is so much that goes into it,” Gadson said. “Maybe that you don’t comprehend and understand, coming out of college, like I didn’t.
"Now, I feel like I’m really starting to feel like I grasp what it means to be a professional and do all the things necessary to achieve your goals and excellence.”
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