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Sophomore wrestler Cory Clark has been a hot topic around Iowa City and the nation lately as the 125 All-American has bumped up to 133 for the season to help make room for another sophomore, Thomas Gilman, in the lineup. While the season is still very fresh, there is a lot of buzz surrounding the four-time state champion from Southeast Polk and some believe he has the makings of an NCAA champion.
So what makes Clark such an attractive pick to win the 133 weight class? For starters this is a weight that graduated the top three All-Americans, one of those being Cory’s training partner Tony Ramos, and there are only three returning All-Americans (Schopp, Beckman, and Brewer). Counting Earl Hall and Chris Dardanes, this weight class is adding the same amount All-Americans from a different weight class as it has returning from the 2014 championships. Although we are only a few weeks into the season we have already seen returning All-American Mason Beckman of Lehigh recently defeated by Jimmy Gulibon of Penn State. What we learned is that even the guys at the top of weight class are far from their predecessors from last year.
Our own Kirk shared his thoughts on Clark’s potential in our Iowa Team Preview:
I look for Clark to be able to wrestle full 7 minute matches this year with the pace that we saw early on in his matches at 125. If this happens I think Cory will be able to put up a lot of bonus points this year with his huge arsenal of offensive weapons. He mentioned at press day that he feels more comfortable with his weight and the Hawks will need him to have a big year to finish where they want as a team in March. I see this as a wide open weight class this year. It’s all going to come down to who will bring it when the lights are on.
Even Cory’s teammate Thomas Gilman, whom he beat out for the 125 spot last season, is high on him when he dropped “the bomb” on media day. “I don’t think that’s a good comparison. Comparing me and Cory Clark to Tony Ramos and Matt McDonough, I think we’re better than those two. You know, I’m putting that out there and we’ll see what we can do.”
If you happen to have trouble interpreting that, not only does Gilman believe in himself, he believes that the Gilman-Clark combination have a chance to be one of the best pair of lightweights in the entire history of Iowa wrestling. Matt McDonough is one of the best 125 wrestlers to ever grace the mat as a Hawkeye, and Ramos never lost a match at Carver-Hawkeye (a group so exclusive it includes the likes of Brent Metcalf). To truly believe that you can top that is absolutely the right mentality you want in your wrestler if you expect them to compete for a NCAA title.
Tony Ramos shared his thoughts on Clark and Gilman (and that quote from Gilman) on the latest episode of Takedown Radio (Interview at the start of Hour 2). Asked by Tony Hager, “That attitude you have is rubbing off on (Gilman) and he had a quote, that he thinks that Gilman and Clark are better than the McDonough-Ramos combination. What do you got to say to that?”
Ramos responded: “That’s awesome, I love it. I saw it, and you know I wasn’t fired up in a bad way, I was fired up in a good way because I hope they are. McDonough and I set the standard high for them, but I hope they exceed that and they got to set the standard high for whoever is coming in next.”
Prior to the Luther Open, former Iowa Hawkeye Mark Ironside shared similar thoughts as Ramos on the Gym Class (35:00 mark) with Scott Unash. “We got guys that no matter what the paper says, whether your one, or two, or twentieth, they are very, very capable of winning a national championship, and I don’t say that very often especially in the sense that I am really, really feeling good…We should be getting national titles out of Nick Moore, Mike Evans and Bobby Telford..and the same goes for a guy like Cory Clark and Thomas Gilman.” That is some pretty high praise coming from Ironside, who truly believes that these wrestlers can all win a title.
So while the season is young, and the only Hawkeye action we have seen Cory Clark at 133 this year was a four pin performance against less than stellar (in terms of elite DI competition, we love the DIII/NJCAA guys) competition at the Luther Open, I think it is okay to start getting excited about the weight change for Clark and what he brings to the table at 133 for the Hawkeyes.