The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Hansen: The painful saga of Ramos

The Daily Iowan
Iowa’s Daniel Dennis grabs fellow Iowa alum Tony Ramos during their 57kg Championship match at the U.S Olympic Wrestling Team trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, April 10, 2016. Dennis will be competing for the gold this summer in Rio. (The Daily Iowan/Valerie Burke)

Tony Ramos has every right to leave the Hawkeye Wrestling Club.

He can think he was betrayed. He can think he was slighted. The team bringing in another wrestler in the form of Daniel Dennis at the same weight is an understandable frustration. For Ramos.

But the organization he belonged to (assuming he doesn’t change his mind) is the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. Not the Tony Ramos Wrestling Club.

That said, Ramos is, by all accounts, a good person. So is Hawkeye wrestling coach Tom Brands. They both wanted the same thing — a former Iowa wrestler in the Olympics.

And they got it. At Ramos’ expense.

None of this should be an attack on either person’s character (and if you type Ramos’ name in a Twitter search, it comes up more than once). Sometimes people don’t agree with each other and have different visions as to how an organization should work.

Ramos was mad for several reasons, starting with the coaching situation. He felt Brands should have “been in his corner.” Instead, Terry Brands was, with USA wrestling coach Mike Dunroe in Dennis’ corner. Tom and Iowa assistant coach Ryan Morningstar were both seated behind the officials’ bench.

Second, Ramos was mad that he was never explicitly consulted about Dennis returning to Iowa City as part of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. It apparently irked him for some time and resulted in a meeting with Tom Brands.

Ramos wanted to be the only wrestler supported by the Hawkeye Wrestling Club at his weight — that frustration boiled over after the meet.

He qualified for the weight class for the Olympics just a few short weeks ago and was the favorite, but being the No. 1 seed guaranteed him nothing.

Not in his wildest dreams did he expect A) to not be an Olympian and B) to lose to a fellow member of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club.

All he had to do to get to Rio de Janeiro was beat Dennis, which Ramos failed to do, in spectacular fashion. In the best-of-three championship bout, Ramos was put on the shot clock twice for being too passive in first match, which gave Dennis a 2-1 victory.

In the second, Ramos was dominated 10-0 after Dennis caught him in a gut wrench and rolled him until the exposure points caused the technical superiority. Ramos was embarrassed in both matches in different ways, which could have contributed to his comments. It’s also hard to imagine having a different coach in the corner was the deciding factor in either match.

Regardless, this whole situation is sad. It’s sad Ramos had to overshadow the truly happy story of Dennis — who was almost completely out of wrestling for much of the last four years — with this mess. It’s sad Ramos feels so hurt by what he thinks Brands did.

I never got the chance to cover Ramos, and I don’t know him, but from what I’ve gathered, he’s an intelligent, media-savvy man who is a good ambassador for the sport. Marketable and driven, he’s been a person lots of young wrestlers look at and want to emulate.

RELATED: Dennis on road to Rio; Ramos to leave Iowa City

At the same time, I have grown to respect and enjoy talking to Tom Brands. He’s a smart, funny coach who is so intently passionate about wrestling that it’s difficult to have anything other than admiration for him.

Brands wouldn’t purposely slight Ramos in any way. I don’t believe he would, at least. Ramos is, after all, Iowa’s last national champion and not someone who his former college coach wouldn’t want around.

The Hawkeyes have two excellent lightweight grapplers in Thomas Gilman and Cory Clark — both who could probably could (and likely have) learned from Ramos. Assuming both continue their trajectories, they could threaten the spot themselves at the 2020 games.

But yet, the Hawkeye Wrestling Club was created with giving all wrestlers a chance to compete at the highest level. It doesn’t matter that Dennis and Ramos were in the same weight class — it was just an unfortunate circumstance for the team.

Ramos even said before the Olympic Trials someone would have his dream crushed. He obviously didn’t think that through, even as he was saying it.

He discounted the possibility he could lose, which perhaps was his eventual downfall.

Nothing can ever take away Ramos’ 2014 NCAA championship. He will always have the five years spent on Iowa’s campus, not to mention a degree from the school.

Brands said the door will always remain open for Ramos to walk back in.

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