Trent and Travis Paulson hold homefield advantage at this weekend’s World Team Trials in their hometown of Council Bluffs.
The twins’ mother bought tickets by the dozens for family and friends. Many more will be inside the Mid-America Center today and Sunday cheering on the native sons as they wrestle for a spot on the U.S. freestyle team that travels to Herning, Denmark, for this fall’s World Championships.
Trent Paulson’s third-grade teacher will be in attendance, wearing one of the hundreds of T-shirts the boys’ mother, Mary Ann, had printed for the event.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Trent Paulson said. “I can’t believe the amount of support we’ve gotten… from people that you wouldn’t even think of.”
The Paulsons, 26, each have earned the top seed in their weight class with wins at last month’s U.S. Nationals in Las Vegas.
Trent Paulson beat Iowa’s Brent Metcalf in the finals and, like the winners in each of the other six weight divisions, earned a bye to the best-of-three finals.
The 145.5-pound class holds the most intrigue for competitors from Iowa and Iowa State.
Trent Paulson won an NCAA title at 157 as a senior at Iowa State. Metcalf, the No. 2 seed, won a national title at 149 his first season at Iowa and had his 69-match winning streak snapped this past season in the finals.
Olympian Doug Schwab, a former Iowa NCAA champion, current Hawkeye assistant Jared Frayer and former Iowa State national champion and assistant coach Chris Bono – a three-time World team member — are in the challenge tournament field.
N.C. State’s Darrion Caldwell, who shockingly defeated Metcalf back in March, earned a wild card spot into the field.
Travis Paulson is the top seed at 163 pounds.
An All-American, but never a national champion at ISU, Travis Paulson has made huge strides in his post-collegiate career. Working out in Lincoln, Neb., where the brothers are Cornhusker assistant coaches, has been helpful.
“I’ve always trained hard, but now I think I’m training smarter,” Travis Paulson said.
They’ve also spent a lot of time in Colorado Springs alongside USA Wrestling coaches like Zeke Jones, Bill Zadick, Brandon Slay and new Iowa State coach Kevin Jackson.
Nebraska coach Mark Manning is one of the coaches for the U.S. freestyle team.
“They are high characters guys,” Manning said of the Paulsons. “I knew that previously, they were just wearing a little different shade of red. Now we’ve got them in the right red and they look better.
“The culture that we’ve tried to develop at Nebraska they fit right into that mold. They’ve put themselves in a great position.”
Five of the seven No. 1 seeds have ties to the state of Iowa.
Joining the Paulsons is Iowa assistant coach and Olympian Mike Zadick (132), ISU senior-to-be Jake Varner (211.5) and former Hawkeye heavyweight Steve Mocco (264.5).
As luck would have it, there were no bids to host the 2009 World Team Trials.
Council Bluffs had bid to host the 2010 event, but when no one stepped up to host this year’s World Team Trials, it was theirs for the taking.
It couldn’t have worked out better with the Paulsons as the top competitors at their weight. Travis will wrestle today. Trent’s match is set for Sunday.
“It’s tough for me to watch him,” Travis Paulson said. “I think I get more emotional during his matches than my own… but it’s the perfect scenario for Trent and I to come back home and wrestle.”
Tags: Brent Metcalf, Chris Bono, Council Bluffs, Darrion Caldwell, Doug Schwab, Iowa, Iowa State, Jake Varner, Jared Frayer, Mark Manning, Mid-America Center, Mike Zadick, Nebraska, Steve Mocco, Travis Paulson, Trent Paulson, World Team Trials