The leadoff spot in Iowa’s wrestling order remains a mysterious scrap between two super-talented freshmen.
Cory Clark held the 125-pound job and a spot in the top five of the national rankings until December, when weight-management woes created an opening for Thomas Gilman. A title at the Midlands Championships shifted Gilman into the front-runner position and he’s been Iowa’s starter for the past month.
But in his last two matches, Gilman squeaked past Nebraska’s Tim Lambert 2-1 on a riding-time point and got pinned Saturday by Minnesota’s Sam Brancale.
“The door is open for both guys, and I’ve maintained that throughout the year,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “It’s not avoiding the question, it’s just true. We’ve got two really good guys there who can do the job. They’re different wrestlers, they’re not the same style, they’re both very, very capable.”
After Clark watched a three-point lead and riding time melt away during a 10-8 overtime loss to Jarrod Garnett in the Midlands semifinals, Brands said the four-time state champion from Southeast Polk High School was “going to have to work really hard” on weight management and nutrition.
“He’s worked hard to do the things he needs to do,” Brands said this week. “He’s had to iron some things out and it’s not just weight control. It’s a lot more — it’s nutrition and weight control, it’s timing and weight control, it’s how do I eat? When do I eat? What do I eat? He’s worked hard. He’s educated himself. This experience is serving him well and he’s making progress.”