As the Iowa wrestling team prepares for the start of the upcoming season, the Hawkeyes can follow the roadmap for success left behind by Thomas Gilman and Cory Clark.
“Those two guys are good examples to follow," coach Tom Brands said following an appearance Monday at the Davenport Grid Club luncheon. “We’ve got a lot of good, young guys in the room who can learn by taking the same approach to their work that Gilman and Clark did."
Since completing collegiate careers in March, Gilman earned a silver medal last month in his first World Championships appearance while Clark is now preparing to start his international career after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum after he completed his college career by winning an NCAA championship.
“They’re going to do a great job representing us post-graduate wise. They got it. They figured it out," Brands said. “We need more of that."
Clark attended Monday’s luncheon as well, welcoming his return to the mat later this fall in international competition.
“What I went through last year with my shoulder made me a better wrestler," Clark said. “I had to improve my positioning, I had to become a smarter wrestler and I had to force myself to become better if I wanted to win a national championship. That will help me compete now."
The Hawkeyes return two all-Americans, Brandon Sorensen at 149 pounds and Michael Kemerer at 157, from a team which finished fourth at the NCAA Championships.
As usual, Brands wants and expects more.
“We’re not where we want to be," Brands said. “We have the makings of a good team. Can it be a great team? Check back in March. A lot of it will come down to how some of your guys do."
Brands points to early preseason rankings which have several Hawkeyes rated in the mid-teens nationally.
“That won’t score you a point at nationals, have to be better than that," he said. “I think we can be. I know working to be better than that. Time will tell if it happens."
With Gilman, Clark and Topher Carton completing their eligibility last season, the Hawkeyes will start fresh at the three lowest weight classes.
Brands pointed to Perez Perez at 125 pounds, Bettendorf’s Paul Glynn at 133 and Carter Happel, Daniel Murphy or Vince Turk at 141 as the starting point for Iowa this season.
Sorensen and Kemerer return at 149 and 157 and with Joey Gunther likely to step up to 174, Alex Marinelli and Caleb Young will compete to step in at 165.
Brands anticipates Cash Wilcke moving down to 184, with Steven Holloway or Mitch Bowman at 197 in front of a healthy Sam Stoll at heavyweight.
Kemerer, Gunther and Wilcke all competed at the NCAA Championships last spring, the first time since 2011 that three Hawkeye freshmen qualified for the national meet.
“I see with our young guys a lot of potential, guys who have competed at a high level and had great success, but you still have to go get it done," Brands said. “It gets old to me talking about potential. I want to talk about results. That’s what our guys are working on – getting results."