He had to earn it, but former Iowa wrestler Thomas Gilman landed a spot on the United States Olympic Team.
Gilman earned his spot in the lineup for the Tokyo Games in August by sweeping a best-of-three championship series against Cornell University wrestler Vito Arujau on Saturday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Fort Worth, Texas.
The former Hawkeye won his first match by pin but used a first-period takedown to win a 2-2 decision against Arujau on criteria in the second-and-deciding match.
Gilman collected his points with just over one minute remaining in the opening period, a takedown near the edge that gave the Iowa native an advantage over the two step-out points Arujau collected in the final 20 seconds of the second period.
The match was much different than the first match of the finals which Gilman ended by fall in 5 minutes, 41 seconds.
In that match, Arujau took an early 4-0 lead before Gilman scored three step-outs and a four-point takedown to move in front.
He followed with a two-point move before taking Arujau to his back to secure the 1-0 advantage with the pin.
Gilman entered the Trials as the top seed in his weight class, a byproduct of him qualifying the weight for the Olympics and a history that includes being a two-time member of the U.S. Senior men’s freestyle world team.
The Council Bluffs, Iowa, native was training with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club when he won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships. He finished fifth at the event in 2018.
He left Iowa City a year ago and has been training with the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club in State College, Pa., in the months since.
Gilman was a three-time all-American during his career with the Hawkeyes, his best NCAA finish being second place.
At the Trials, Gilman reached the finals by defeating another wrestler with Iowa ties in the semifinals.
He defeated former Northern Iowa wrestler Joe Colon with a 10-0 technical fall to reach Saturday’s finals at 57 kilograms (125 pounds).
He opened a 3-0 lead against Colon after one period, then scored a four-point takedown to open a significant lead. A step-out preceded the takedown that ended the match.
The technical fall was the second of the tournament for Gilman, who scored an 11-0 opening round technical fall over former Illinois wrestler Zane Richards to begin his push to the finals.
Former Iowa State NCAA champion Kyven Gadson earned a spot on the U.S. National Team with a third-place finish at the Trials at 97 kilograms.
After losing his first match at the Trials on Friday, Gadson finished off a string of four consecutive wins with a pin of Michael Machaivello in :38 to secure the spot on the U.S. team.