Head to Head: Will Austin Gomez or David Carr have a better collegiate career?

Iowa State Daily columnist Zach Martin.

Zach Martin and Stephen Mcdaniel

Two of Iowa State’s highest-ranked recruits in the Kevin Dresser-era are poised to finish college together. With Austin Gomez vying for a medical redshirt following a concussion in what would have been his redshirt sophomore season and David Carr about to enter his redshirt sophomore year, the two teammates will enter the 2020-21 season with three years of eligibility remaining.

Iowa State Daily wrestling reporters Zach Martin and Stephen McDaniel go “Head to Head” to debate whether it will be Carr or Gomez that finishes with the better career.

Martin: Austin Gomez will end up winning multiple NCAA Championships

Doesn’t it feel like we’ve all kind of forgotten about how good Gomez is?

I mean, he was the flashiest wrestler on the Cyclones in his redshirt freshman season. He nearly beat Iowa’s Austin DeSanto in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk dual, pinned Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young at the Southern Scuffle and placed second at the Big 12 Championships.

His offensive prowess and his stature at 133 pounds made him a preseason top-five wrestler after making it to round 12 at the 2019 NCAA Championships in his 24-7 record.

Then the summer hit.

He enjoyed himself too much and was bigger than he should’ve been. By a lot, saying he weighed close to 170 pounds, enjoying a lot of tacos. His goal was to get back down to 133 by the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Another roadblock happened, this time a concussion, and his season was gone. Head Coach Kevin Dresser felt it was best to hold him out for the year with Todd Small doing a fairly good job at Gomez’s weight.

“It’s hard now because I’m not on the grind, so it’s different,” Gomez told the Daily back in February. “But it’s definitely been a learning experience; how to take care of my body and just how to do the right things outside of the wrestling room.”

There’s no argument, and I know Stephen will agree with me on this, that Carr likely will have a National Championship at some point in the next three years. I’m of the mindset Gomez will have one as well.

What this boils down to is who is most likely to get a second one. Two words help my case as to why Gomez can and Carr cannot.

Weight class.

Gomez can wrestle at 133 and 141 and be a national title contender in both.

He has proven he can beat the best at 133. His two biggest opponents in the conference for next season if he were to stay at 133 would be Wyoming’s Montorie Bridges, who is 1-1 all time against, and Utah Valley’s Taylor LaMont. 

Nationally, Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera, DeSanto, Bravo-Young, Pittsburgh’s Micky Phillippi and Rutgers’ Sammy Alvarez. Likely, he starts the preseason rankings in the top five for the second year in a row.

This weight is likely where he’ll get his first national title. His ability to rack up bonus points and turns is second to none, something Carr hasn’t shown the ability to do yet against top-tier guys on a consistent basis.

Once Ian Parker graduates, there’s no reason to believe he doesn’t move up to 141, something he said at media day last season he legitimately considered. That weight, in two years, will be wide open.

Six of InterMat’s top 20 will still be in college, plus there’s a possibility of Ohio State’s Anthony Echemendia, a one-time Iowa State commit, wrestling at that weight.

The biggest factor being in a situation such as that is who will still be at 141?

Iowa’s Max Murin likely bumps up to 149 with the arrival of Missouri transfer Jaydin Eierman. Does he go back down once Eierman’s one and only season with the Hawkeyes is done?

Does Oklahoma’s Dom Demas move up one weight class? Same question can be posed to Northern Iowa’s Michael Blockhus with the graduation of stalwart Max Thomsen leaving a hole at 149.

What about Stanford’s Real Woods, who just finished a 19-1 season? Two Atlantic Coast Conference products, Zach Sherman of North Carolina and Virginia Tech’s Mitch Moore, might they want to move up?

And we don’t even know what recruits will come in and possibly spoil a party. That’s a whole lot of what-ifs and questions for not only Gomez but Carr as well.

However, there’s one difference between Gomez’s two weights and Carr’s two weights, and that’s experience.

In terms of what Gomez will have to face, regardless if it’s at 133 or 141, he’ll be one of the most experienced wrestlers in either weight. I can’t say the same for Carr.

Between the two, 13 wrestlers, who currently are sophomores or freshmen, will still be in college. Compare that to 157 and 165 for Carr, the number spikes to 17. That includes two of the best 65-pounders in the country in Stanford’s Shane Griffith and Oklahoma State’s Travis Wittlake.

As the competition stiffens for both Carr and Gomez, from a strictly visual standpoint, it’s Gomez that takes the edge.

Bottom line, I enjoy both of these guys. As a reporter, they might be two of my favorite interviews with their approach and kindness, and their respective wrestling speaks for itself.

But with a chip on his shoulder, combined with who’s in front of him over the next three years, Gomez has the distinct advantage to win more than one National Championship than Carr.

McDaniel: David Carr will have the better collegiate career

After the 2019-20 wrestling season came to an abrupt finish right as the NCAA Championship came into view, we learned one thing for sure: Carr is legit.

Look, Carr and Gomez are both tremendously talented guys, and I’m sure Dresser loves the fact that they both are going to be in Iowa State singlets for the foreseeable future, but in my eyes, Carr is the best Iowa State wrestler and will close out his collegiate career ahead of Gomez.

Since Gomez didn’t compete this year due to a concussion and likely getting a medical redshirt, Carr and Gomez are slated to close their collegiate careers out at the same time.

But compare how their respective redshirt freshman campaigns ended up.

Gomez had a fantastic year, with a 24-7 record, NCAA qualifier and placed top three at the Big 12 Championships.

But now look at Carr.

He finished with an 18-1 record. He missed some duals with an injury, and his only loss during the season came to the undefeated and No. 1 ranked Ryan Deakin of Northwestern.

Not only that, but Carr held the No. 3 seed going into the NCAA Championships, and it wasn’t uncommon to hear his name thrown around as a potential winner for the 157 title. This is also after Carr claimed his first Big 12 title, a feat of which Gomez fell just short.

Not to mention, Carr’s first true match back after his minor injury was at the start of the Big 12 Championships, and he still went on to win the title.

And yes, I know that this is just one season, and there’s still three more seasons left. But considering the hot start that Carr has had and the family legacy that follows him, I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon.

Carr is the kind of guy that you should expect multiple Big 12 titles and NCAA titles from; he’s just that good. Obviously, we won’t ever know now, but Carr had a legitimate shot at the 157 title this year before the plug was pulled on the NCAA Championships.

Next year will be interesting to see how well Gomez reacclimatizes to the lineup again after being gone from competition for an entire year. But when he returns, for the sake of this debate, Carr will already be hitting the ground running as one of the top athletes in collegiate wrestling as a whole.

Not only that, but Gomez also finds himself in a position where he’s going to have to compete for his spot in the lineup with Todd Small proving himself to be a viable option at 133 through his redshirt junior season.

Even looking at offseason preparations, and while I don’t fully know on what Gomez is planning on, we’ve seen what Carr can do while not competing in Ames.

Heading into his redshirt freshman campaign, Carr claimed the gold medal in the 2019 junior men’s freestyle world championships, which marked him as the first Iowa State wrestler to ever accomplish that.

Carr has already gotten a taste at what tough competition will look like, and the fact that he’s already started his collegiate career off on such a hot start, I just don’t see Gomez being able to stay up to par with Carr in the long haul.

Carr already has the leg up on Gomez with the Big 12 157 title, and considering that Carr will more than likely be pegged as one of the best wrestlers in the country in the seasons to follow, Gomez will have to make up ground because I see Carr winning plenty more Big 12 titles and maybe an NCAA title or two.

All in all, both will be good, but Carr will be better.