COUNCIL BLUFFS – With a tap of the chest and a wave to the crowd, Trent Paulson said all he needed to say.
The native son made the home crowd proud, winning a spot on the U.S. freestyle World Team Sunday at the Mid-America Center that a night earlier eluded his twin brother, Travis. Paulson, bruised and bloodied from his best-of-three sweep of Jared Frayer, was full of emotion afterward.
“I’m just overwhelmed right now,” said Paulson, a 2007 NCAA champion at Iowa State. “Last night broke my heart. It was pretty hard to get going today, but I knew the best thing I could do to lift Travis’ spirits was make that world team and bring him as my training partner.”
He did it by countering what doomed Travis in his championship bout: the leg clinch.
After a closely contested first match (1-0, 0-3, 2-2) that ended with a two-point move in the closing seconds after the first two went to extra time, there was even more dramatics for the vocal crowd wearing “Paulson Power” T-shirts.
Paulson punched his ticket to this fall’s World Championships in Herning, Denmark, in the 145.5-pound weight class by wiggling loose from Frayer’s clinch and denying him a takedown. Wrestlers who choose the offensive position in the clinch must score during the 30-second time period or lose a point.
Travis Paulson lost four clinch situations in his loss to Dustin Schlatter in the 163-pound final.
Trent won the second match 2-0, 1-0.
“It’s real tough to get your leg back,” Trent Paulson said. “I was hoping (Frayer) would cut across for the angle right away so I could break the lock and I was able to… I dug deep for my brother.”
Frayer, who made his second appearance in the World Team Trials finals, has never beaten Paulson in three tries.
Tervel Dlagnev was the second-most popular wrestler of the night and gave a big group of local supporters a lot to cheer about with his upset of former Hawkeye Steve Mocco at 264.5 pounds.
Dlagnev, a two-time Division II champion at Nebraska-Kearney who trains at Northern Iowa, went the full three matches in defeating the 2008 Olympian and this year’s U.S. Nationals champion.
A sore jaw made it difficult for Dlagnev to speak after his emotional celebration.
“Three matches with that guy is not easy,” Dlagnev said. “I blew the second match. I have a lot of work on but I’m glad I get to work on it as the No. 1 guy.”
Dlagnev scored a takedown with four seconds to go to clinch a 3-1, 1-1 victory in the third match.
But he still needed to fend off a final attempt by Mocco.
“I blocked that last shot with my face, but I’m glad I did,” said Dlagnev, who came in 1-1 all-time against Mocco.
Mocco survived a disputed second match to even get to the third.
A video review reversed a call that would have won Dlagnev the match on a leg clinch move. He won the draw that gave him the offensive position, but Mocco was able to get exposure points first as they were nearing the edge of the mat.
Dlagnev beat Michael Irving and Dominique Bradley in winning the challenge tournament.
In reaching finals, Frayer, 30, showed he is capable of competing with these younger guys.
The former Oklahoma All-American and current University of Iowa assistant coach beat Hawkeye senior Brent Metcalf and NCAA 149-pound champion Darrion Caldwell in winning the challenge tournament.
Paulson earned a bye to the finals with his title at April’s U.S. Nationals in Las Vegas.
Frayer took a 1-0, 0-3, 1-0 decision from Metcalf in the challenge tournament semifinals.
Metcalf had a disappointing day, failing to place in the top four after losing his consolation match to Olympian and former Hawkeye national champion Doug Schwab. Neither wrestler could execute much offense.
Metcalf, Schwab and Frayer all train together at Iowa.
Metcalf hid his face under a hoodie walking off the floor and later broke down while speaking with reporters.
“I did a good job the entire match and then it got down to I had to score,” Metcalf said. “I’m not willing to just flip a coin and see if I’m going to win or not. I have to create better set-ups to my offense to get in on a guy (Frayer) like that.”