IOWA CITY, Iowa – In the moment when his arms were raised as the NCAA Division I national champion, Tony Ramos felt nothing but excitement.
But now that the former Glenbard North wrestling standout and current University of Iowa senior has had time to reflect on his March 22 accomplishment, he thinks about all the time and work that went into it.
“At the time it happened, it was a lot of fun,” Ramos said. “Now that I’ve had some time to sit back and let it sink in a little bit, it’s one of those things, I worked forever for it. With all of the work I’ve put in, there is now something that is there I can grasp. The bracket board symbolizes all the hard work. There is something at the end that nobody can take away from you that you will have forever.”
Making the achievement even more special was the fact that Ramos had come up just short in recent years. The Carol Stream native finished third in 2012 and second a year ago.
“It’s definitely more special to me,” Ramos said. “To me, it’s a story of persistence and never giving up. I’ve been so close and I failed and I failed. But failure is what I needed. I felt the pain and saw the areas I needed to do better in, and that’s how you improve.”
He credits his time in the Glenbard North wrestling room with helping pave the way for him to become a three-time all-American.
“Wrestling at Glenbard North gave me the experience of being in big-time matches and duals,” he said. “The coaches were great motivators, and they taught a lot of discipline, and I learned a lot of technique from them. Coach [Mark] Hahn knows how to get a lot out of guys and he knew how to get a lot out of me.”
Ramos wraps up his collegiate career with 120 victories, and he will graduate in May with a degree in theatre arts.
“It’s been a lot of fun, but also a lot of learning has been going on,” Ramos said. “Not only wrestling but going to class and learning how to grow up and be a man and paying bills and all that stuff.
“At the same time, I don’t think many people get the opportunity to travel the country [like I did]. That is something I’ll always remember. And I made a lot of friends along the way.”
While eventually joining the ranks as a wrestling coach is a goal, Ramos is not ready to call it quits on the mat. In fact, he has his eyes set on the 2016 Olympics.
“That’s the big goal,” he said. “I’d be competing at 57 kilo, which is 125½ pounds. It’s a drop from where I’m at.
“I’m going to continue wrestling for the Hawkeye wrestling club and still wrestle guys who go to Iowa. I can get some coaching experience there and then maybe in two years after the Olympics, hopefully I’ll get a coaching job.”