DeKalb's Gillum first ever Freestyle UWW U15 Men's Freestyle 75kg wrestling champion
DeKalb’s Bradley Gillum learned from a simple moment on the mat, and in the process, became the first United World Wrestling U15 Men’s Freestyle champion at 75 kilograms.
By winning the tournament at the Papillion Landing in Papillion, Nebraska on Sunday, he earned a 75 kilogram (about 165 pounds) spot on a world stage. Gillum will travel to Budapest, Hungary to compete in the U15 world championships in June, where he will represent the U.S.
Gillum ran through his first two opponents in the freestyle competition after taking second in the Greco-Roman tournament. After defeating Anthony Tuttle of Minnesota, 7-4, in the first match of his best-of-three match freestyle final, Gillum fell behind Tuttle in the second match, after a quick four-point move.
With about 30 seconds remaining, Gillum, in a similar scenario to the one that put him behind early, got the best of Tuttle in a scramble situation and came away with the winning points late in the match of a 6-4 win.
“After I saw the clock tick down, I went, ‘Oh, so I won another match,’ ” Gillum sad. “It didn’t hit me that I was on a world team until … they had a meeting about the world team. It wasn’t until then that I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to go overseas to wrestle.’ ”
Coach J.D. Oliva, who was on the trip with Gillum, described the winning scenario as he saw it play out.
“The kid [Tuttle] defended really well,” Oliva said. “It was actually how Bradley gave up a takedown in the first period, but this time instead of giving it up, he kind of hipped in and found a cradle and scored with it. It was pretty big. It was a great way to end.”
Gillum was at a disadvantage from the start. He weighed in at about 72 kilograms, or about 158 pounds. Although Gillum wrestled up at higher weights in duals for the DeKalb varsity wrestling team as a freshman this past season, going up against some of the better freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers in the country for his weight was a tall task. But there was a familiarity there. Gillum had wrestled each athlete he came up against in his bracket. Gillum won a close match over Gavin Nelson of Minnesota in the semifinals, 8-5, to claim his spot in the freestyle final. Gillum had just lost to Nelson in the Greco-Roman final in two straight matches.
“Bradley, he took advantage of a bad position, and he actually used more of a Greco maneuver, a trap arm gut wrench to score eight points quick,” Oliva said. “Was pretty much an insurmountable lead for how that match worked out.”
The attacking mindset that was taught to Gillum from his youth days until now showed as he grabbed early leads in matches and attempted to be the aggressor against bigger wrestlers. Gillum enjoys the Greco-Roman style, which is more geared toward maintaining contact and controlling an opponent only on the upper body to get an opponent to the ground and score points – and he felt more prepared for Greco-Roman despite winning a Freestyle national championship before his seventh-grade year. Ultimately, Gillum utilized Greco-style training to gain the crucial points in the Freestyle matches and made him a world qualifier.
After the loss to Nelson, Gillum got back on track for the freestyle competition that immediately followed.
“I don’t take losses hard or anything. If I lose, oh well. Everybody loses,” Gillum said.
Gillum was more interested in the competition presented at the event, deciding to partake as soon as he heard the announcement of the event’s creation.
“The competition – I knew there would be some high-level competitors there,” Gillum said. “Being able to travel to a different country was always in the back of mind. But it was mostly to go out there and just meet some new people and compete with good people.”
[Contributed by Devon Gillum]
He is now excited about the opportunity to go to Europe, where Oliva said that Gillum is likely to face talented athletes from Russia and Eastern Europe.
“He’s going to come back a changed kid,” Oliva said. “He’ll have a greater appreciation for world-level technique. He’ll have a better understanding of what wrestling is on a world stage.”
After realizing the magnitude of the accomplishment, Gillum looks forward to using the trip for a better cultural and technical wrestling understanding.
“It’ll open new experiences for me,” Gillum said. “I’ve never traveled overseas. I hope it’ll be nice there and I’ll just have a ton of fun.”