LOCKPORT – When you consider what Matt Ramos accomplished this month, it’s obvious that a big celebration was in order.
Although it took a while, this week’s event at Coom’s Corner Sports Grill was a great setting for the Lockport wrestling family and many of Ramos’ friends and teammates to honor him for joining an elite group – wrestlers who can call themselves world champions.
Ramos, who will be a senior this year for the Porters, stunned many by being Team USA’s lone champion in the Cadet Freestyle World Championships, which took place this month in Zagreb, Croatia.
On July 4, Ramos celebrated while displaying a U.S. flag after beating Japan’s Kota Takahashi by fall in 2:40 in the 51-kilogram title match.
Ramos, who was third in Class 3A last year at 113 pounds and fifth at 106 pounds the year before, is a rare example of an individual who captured a world title before he won any IHSA sectional meets.
After beating Greece’s Ioannis Martidis, 5-3, he used a late flurry for a 10-5 quarterfinal victory over Mongolia’s Dashtseren Purvee and then won, 2-2, by criteria over Iran’s Seyedfran Jafariangelyerd in the semifinals.
“This means so much to me,” Ramos said of the party. “Everyone here has helped me get through when I was getting down on myself, and they helped me back up. My coaches and partners pushed me to be the best, and all of my friends who have helped me through the bad times were here since they’re always supporting me.”
Although not having the lofty credentials of some other wrestlers on Team USA, he earned his spot in the same way as they did at the UWW Cadet World Team Trials in Akron, Ohio.
Although competing at such a high level was a new experience, Ramos went into the event believing that he could be successful. And it certainly didn’t hurt to have Porters assistant Jameson Oster there as a volunteer coach.
“The key is always to have confidence going into matches,” Ramos said. “If you don’t go into a match feeling confident, you’re not going to wrestle confidently. You have to know that you’ve got to make something happen.
“Since I didn’t know about their types of wrestling, I had to wrestle like I do in every match and not change my style. I was really happy that Jameson was there for me, since he knows me the best in coaching, and the U.S. coaches only got to know me for a week. He knew exactly what I needed to do and what I needed to get to on my attacks.”
Oster was happy to be able to help Ramos win the world championship.
“It was awesome,” Oster said. “I was really fortunate to have the opportunity to coach in a tournament at that level. Matt was losing in every match except the semifinals, but he’s a gamer and found a way to win. It was great to be in his corner in every match in this journey. The USA coaches did a good job of scouting, and that really helped, and it was great being around coaches of that caliber. It was good to soak in the experience, and watching coaches from other countries, I saw things that we can use at the high school.”
Ramos and Oster had travel expenses, and Lockport’s wrestling family hopes to raise funds to offset that. If you’re interested in helping, you can send a check to the Junior Porters, 146 N. Washington Street, Lockport, IL 60441.
As a result of his world title, Ramos is ranked sixth nationally at 120 pounds by FloWrestling, while his friend, teammate and training partner, senior Anthony Molton, the 2018 Class 3A 120 champion, is ranked 16th after being a two-time All-American at Fargo.
“This gives me more confidence going into the future,” Ramos said. “It shows that I’m at the level with the best people in the country and the world. So knowing that, I feel like I can do anything. Even though I haven’t won a state title, every loss that I’ve had just pushes me forward, and every time I lose, I learn from it. I think I can become a state champion this year.”