An interview by Logan Shanks
Before starting his collegiate wrestling career, Austin Gomez posted an impressive 195-7 record at Glenbard North High School, winning three Illinois state titles, two Fargo Freestyle and Greco titles, and two Pan American gold medals. All of these accomplishments made him the 11th overall recruit coming out of high school.
At Iowa State University, Gomez was a 2019 NCAA Qualifier with a solid third-place showing at the Big 12 Championships. He announced his retirement in 2020 to due injuries, but the following year, Gomez made his return to the mat - joining the Wisconsin Badgers.
He’s been on a tear this year at Wisconsin, heading into the Big 10 Championships with a 14-2 record. Here’s what the Chain Wrestling athlete had to say about his career so far:
Q: What made you want start working with Chain Wrestling?
A: The fact that it was made by wrestlers. Ethan, one of the founders, reached out to me. It was really cool and to know that someone wanted to put my name out there on some gear with all the NIL stuff going on.
Q: What got you into wrestling?
A: It was something I was born into. My dad wrestled in high school, right after that he started coaching. I was around a great kids program, grew up in a good area with a good high school with a background in a tradition of wrestling, So, it’s all I ever wanted to do.
Q: What coach(es) have made the biggest impact on your career?
A: Definetly my dad, he's the one that got me started. He taught me all the fundamentals and everything I needed to be successful. And then, my high school coach Mark Hahn, one of the most legendary coaches in Illinois high school wrestling. My Iowa State coaches instilled things in me that I still use today. And of course, my coaches here at Wisconsin really helped me after my long break off of wrestling.
Q: What was the jump like to wrestling with college athletes and how much did the tournaments outside of the regular season develop your style and prepare you for NCAA opponents?
A: I think being exposed to the big stage helped me prepare for wrestling at the college level, especially in Illinois. Tournaments like Fargo helped me prepare for that. Not a lot of guys can make that jump to Division 1 wrestling, and it’s nice to see that I've been able to be doing well for myself now. It’s a different level of wrestling but you’re gonna take your lumps and learn along the way.
Q: What’s your relationship like with Ridge Lovitt? Both are Chain Wrestling athletes who wrestle at 149 lbs.
A: I don’t know Ridge personally. Competitively I know he’s a great competitor, he’s gonna throw the kitchen sink at ya. He’s gonna come at ya for seven minutes so I respect that. We’re both Chain Wrestling athletes and it’s cool to see that they have two guys that are ranked in the top ten at that weight. It’s cool to see that Chain Wrestling has some big athletes underneath their belt.
Q: What has your experience been like with Wisconsin in your first full season with them? Do you have any favorite teammates?
A: My experience here has been awesome. It’s gotten me back on track to where I can be, I’m wrestling the best I have in my college career so far. They’re all my favorite teammates, I respect all of them and all the work they put in. I've built some relationships here that are gonna last me a lifetime.
Q: What was the most memorable match that brought you the most joy before joining the Badgers?
A: It would have to be at the NCAAs in the round of 16’s against Montorie Bridges of Wyoming. He had beat me two weeks prior at the Big 12 Championships. Being able to get that win on the backside of the NCAAs and go to the round of 12 - it was a good win for me. Another match would be the DeSanto match when we lost at Carver-Hawkeye. Getting that win knowing I could’ve won us the dual was really cool.
Q: What's the atmosphere like at the field house when you have those home duals?
A: The fans bring a lot of great energy. They’re gonna have your back 100%. It’s not a big venue so the fans are right on top of ya and it’s a cool atmosphere to wrestle in. It’s definitely one of my favorites.
Q: What has your brother has been able to do for your career and your mentality every time you step out on the mat?
A: My little brother Santiago passed away when I was 11 years old. He was my only brother; it was gonna be cool to show him the ropes and be a mentor for him. I’m living it every day for him 'cause I know that’s what he would do with his life. Everything I do is for him. I think about him and what life would be like if he was still here. But I think about it positively, so that's what I'm doing every day of my life for him.
Q: What’s your pre-match routine look like?
A: I just throw my headphones on and put on some music. I’ll sit down in a chair until the match before I’m up and then I’ll start getting loose. I try to remain as calm as possible. The coaches get kind of irritated for how loose I am. I’ll joke around 10 minutes before I go out and wrestle. But I’m not trying to think about it too much, or I'll tense up. I’m wrestling my best when I’m having fun and with a smile on my face.
Q: What does your career look like after NCAAs
A: “ I think the plan will be to go make a World Team. That’s the goal after I try and win a national title. It’s going to get the next best thing, which is a gold medal. Not just any world medal, a gold medal.
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About the author: Logan Shanks
Logan was part of the Ankeny High School wrestling team from 8th grade until he graduated in 2020. He's currently a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications at Iowa State University. Logan hopes to one day write for a major league sports team and share with the world his thoughts and opinions on multiple sports.