The great debate that started the moment both of these wrestlers committed. Clark was a four time Iowa state champion, who lost his only match in high school his senior year. Gilman was a Nebraska high schooler, where he won four titles, even though he was a Council Bluffs, IA native.
I would like to try and make this argument as objective as possible so I am going to try and produce some facts, observations I have made over the last two seasons. In the end, both wrestlers will be supported no matter who is ultimately decided as “the man”.
The first thing we are going to do is eliminate anyone who doesn’t qualify as a division one opponent. We will start with the only the competition each wrestler has a chance of facing over the next month. As Freshmen Clark was 15-2 and Gilman was 16-5. Gilman, who spent the entire season at 125, registered quality wins over Intermat ranked opponents:
- #13 Eddie Kilmara, who he defeated 5-2
- #12 Ethan Silver 4-1
- #6 Dylan Peters which he beat 3-2, 5-3, and then 17-6 MD last January.
- He had losses to teammate Cory Clark 0-2, #3 Jesse Delgado 2-5 and 2-7, #7 Jarrod Patterson 0-3, and to another true freshman Nathan Kraisser of UNC
Clark on the other hand had quality wins over
- #6 Dylan Peters 14-10
- #3 Jesse Delgado 6-1
- #7 Jarrod Patterson 3-2
- 5th place 2013 All American Trent Sprenkle 6-1
- Clark’s only two losses were to 6th place 2013 All American Garnett and to Christian Cullinan
Judging from their Freshman records would would be inclined to lean Clark’s direction. Clark owned the only head-to-head meeting and beat the future NCAA champion in a dominating fashion. So we dig into their second seasons:
- beat #13 Eddie Kilmara 5-2 and 4-2
- MD #18 Kory Mines 12-3
- #6 Dylan Peters 6-3
- 2013 6th place AA Jarrod Garnett 6-1
- 2013 NCAA champion Jesse Delgado 3-1
- #11 Tim Lambert 2-1
- With three losses to again to teammate Cory Clark 0-4, 2012 and 2013 NCAA runner up Nico Megauldis 1-4, and Minnesota’s Sam Brancale pinned him.
Clark‘s second year resume:
- His win over Gilman
- And # 15 Conor Youtesy 4-1
- His only loss of the season coming to Garnett 8-10
So as you can see while Clark owns the head-to-head meaning for the second straight year, Gilman has the more impressive resume. So which wrestler is truly better? It’s pretty much an unknown. The fact that both have wins over Delgado at this point in their career, and they both have wins over 2013 AA’s, the outlook for either at the NCAA tournament in Oklahoma City should be very optimistic.
Aside from Peters of UNI Gilman has not be able to dominate his top ten opponents. Most of the time Gilman has won a majority of his matches by getting a takedown against his opponent and then riding that opponent out. He has two wins over top ten opponents (Garnett and Peters) in which he has won by more than 2 points. Looking at the way Clark has won his matches against the top ten, he has three matches (four counting Gilman) where he has won by at least 4 points or more, of those one was Delgado. It is hard when you are dealing with such small sample sizes, but one could say based on history that Clark is in fact the better wrestler based on his style of wrestling allows him to score more points. Gilman’s style on the other hand is tailored to getting a takedown and riding out an opponent for an entire period if need be. It is hard to say which style in particular is better because it still depends on the wrestler. However, with Iowa entering a team race against Penn State, where every bonus point will be needed to dethrone the Lions, it may be the better option to go with the wrestler who offers the better chance of scoring the most match points in hopes that translates in to bonus points and higher placement points.
I think we will see Clark against Wisconsin to assure that both Gilman and Clark will be the #3 seed for conference, but whoever is the man in March may still be undecided. I have made my case by looking at wins over ranked opponents, the quality of those wins, and head-to-head, and if I knew that each wrestler is 100% healthy and good to go, I would pick Clark.
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