Austin Gomez ready for bright lights in Pittsburgh

Then-redshirt freshman Austin Gomez smiles at his opponents before the start of the Iowa State vs. Utah Valley dual meet Feb. 3, 2019, at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones defeated the Wolverines 53-0.

Trevor Holbrook

Scared money don’t make money.

Redshirt freshman 133-pounder Austin Gomez frequently filled Twitter feeds with that statement or a variation of it before duals. Now, Gomez faces the ultimate task — the NCAA Championships — and he takes that mindset with him.

Scared money don’t make money.

— Austin Gomez (@AGomez133) December 1, 2018

Gomez originally fired off the five word Tweet an hour and 20 minutes before Iowa State’s dual with top rival Iowa on Dec. 1, 2018.

Gomez backed up his fearless motto, knocking off Austin DeSanto in a 14-9 decision in the final match of the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk dual. The Cyclones needed a pin to win, and Gomez aggressively tried putting DeSanto on his back and pulling one of the biggest team upsets of the young season.

“He throws it out there,” said coach Kevin Dresser after the dual. “He’s not afraid. Look at the end of that match with all that controversy, there’s 1:13 to go. He’s looking at the scoreboard, and it’s tied 8-8. Most guys, what are they going to do? They’re going to try to go win 10-8. He tries to win the dual for the team.”

The attitude of Gomez from over three and a half months ago stays lit inside him. He lives for the big stage and the bright lights.

Before Gomez and the Cyclones traveled to the Big 12 Championships, the redshirt freshman answered questions. The first name Gomez uttered, unprompted, belonged to Oklahoma State freshman phenom Daton Fix, but he never received his rematch in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Gomez paid his farewells to social media earlier this month due to the religious observance of Lent, so the five-word phrase won’t be seen throughout the tournament.

Off social media, Gomez took a more relaxed approach to answering questions before the trek to Pittsburgh.

“I’m pretty excited,” Gomez said about the looming tournament. “It’s just another tournament. I’ve got to take it as another tournament. If I think of it as this is end-all, be-all, which it kind of is, then I’m going to get too nervous, and I’m going to start thinking about it too much.”

Despite the lighter approach, his teammates still recognize his ability to shine in the spotlight.

If anyone knows anything about wrestling on the big stage in March, it’s redshirt senior 197-pounder Willie Miklus, who earned All-American honors three times at Missouri.

Miklus transitioned from a black and gold singlet into a cardinal and gold singlet this year, and he’s only spent one season in the same wrestling room as Gomez. Even with the limited time together, Miklus took notice of the young 133-pounder.

“I live for big crowds; I live for the big moments,” Willie Miklus said. “A lot of those guys [at Iowa State] do too.

“Gomez, he’s a gamer, and I expect big things out of him.”