A Lumberjack of All Trades, Meet Bosco’s Thomas Even, One of Iowa’s Best Multi-Sport Athlete

By Joshua Swafford for The Predicament

 

A Lumberjack of All Trades, Meet Bosco’s Thomas Even, One of Iowa’s Best Multi-Sporters

To start, check out Tommy’s Highlight Reel:

This article is a Senior Spotlight-Multisporter story hybrid. I will start this out with some of the common Senior Spotlight questions.

Senior Spotlight: Thomas Even, Gilbertville, Don Bosco

When did you start wrestling? Who introduced you to the sport?

I started wrestling when I was about 3 years old. My dad introduced me to the sport.

Do you have any family who wrestled before you? How did they do?

My dad was a state qualifier and two of my uncles placed at state. My oldest brother Austin won state in 2011 and was third in 2010. My brother Ryan was a 2x state qualifier. My other brother Ronald wrestled as well.

Did you catch on to wrestling quickly or was it a gradual process?

I placed 2nd at Pee-Wee state twice and won state twice in middle school so it was fairly quickly.

What club did you wrestle for growing up and how would you describe your experience with the club?

I wrestled for Jesup growing up. I really liked some of the coaches there but the room intensity and the other wrestlers didn’t have the fire that I was looking for. I found that at Don Bosco.

What are a couple memorable moments from youth wrestling?

Winning my first state title in 4th grade and the second one in 6th grade.

What are a couple memorable moments from HS wrestling to this point?

Starting a dance-off at the Battle of Waterloo my Sophomore year. When Max Wettengel when to the wrong mat in the middle of his match. The bus ride to Ida Grove my Sophomore year with Gable Fox, Logan Lutgen and Austin Svobada.

How did you finish at the state tournaments you wrestled in at the HS level so far?

5th as a Sophomore and 2nd as a Junior.

What are your wrestling goals this season?

My goal is to not lose a match.

What kind of style do you wrestle? Is there any wrestler you would compare yourself to?

I think I have a unique funky style. I can hit moves that most people don’t attempt. I believe I can pin someone in any situation. Dangerous from any position.

Did you play any other sports besides wrestling? How did you do at them?

I was part of a Bosco football team that won state my Freshman year. I played defensive tackle that year. My Sophomore year we won state as well and I was a first team all-state linebacker and started as running back. My Junior year I got hurt before the quarter finals and we lost. I received first team all state running back and linebacker. My Junior year I also ran at the Drake Relays and placed sixth in the 4x100 at state. In my 2018/Junior season in football, I had over 1500 yards rushing and had 34 rushing touchdowns in which I led the entire state, all classes. I also led the entire state in points scored with 248. This also includes all classes.

What are some of your hobbies off the mat?

Cutting down trees, lifting and hanging out with my friends.

What was your favorite memory from HS wrestling so far?

When Noah Pittman beat Brock Farley. Farley has been saying all year that he was going to accomplish one of his goals of beating Farley and he finally did...at the State Duals.

 

What is the best advice you ever received?

If you believe you will win, then you will.

Who were some of the most influential coaches you had in your wrestling career?

My family and the entire Bosco wrestling staff.

How proud are you to be a part of a legendary wrestling program like Don Bosco?

It is unreal how proud it makes me to be a part of this program. There is so much tradition. I wake up every morning and feel blessed for the opportunities that I have been given.

What are your plans for wrestling after HS is over? Do you have any coaching aspirations or is that a little far down the road?

I am unsure if I am going to wrestle in college. I wouldn’t mind coaching later in life.

How does the future look for Don Bosco wrestling?

The future looks very bright. We have a lot of talent coming up for many years to come. .

Who were your wrestling heroes growing up?

Jordan Burroughs.

Was there a certain point in your career where you noticed yourself making huge jumps and strides in your wrestling game?

Yes, when I started believing I was the best wrestler in the world, I became a lot better at the sport.

When you were a Sophomore and placed fifth and Gabe Pauley was a Junior and placed first, you guys had the infamous moment that went viral via Twitter and what not, where you guys shared Danimals on the podium. It was hilarious. How crazy is it to think about that you would wrestle Gabe the next year, but in the state finals…and would put on one of the closest matches of the entire finals round?

I saw it coming to be honest. I knew Gabe had one more year left and he would be the guy I would have to beat to win it all.

If you don’t mind me asking, what did Gabe Pauley say to you after your finals match. It appeared as if he has a ton of respect for you.

He told me I was one of the best wrestlers he has ever wrestled. I respect Gabe tremendously.

How cool was it seeing yourself as a human wrecking ball on highlights of the state football championships on the big screen at Wells Fargo while you were competing in the state wrestling championships?

It was a very good feeling seeing myself compete in football on the big screen while competing at Wells Fargo for a complete different sport.

Brennan Swafford was standing fairly close to you during the Grand March of 2018. He was gearing up for his finals match, which didn’t go his way and resulted in the Swafford clan being totally devastated. However, after a few hours passed and time was healing and things were starting to look less gloomy, I’ll never forget the first thing that Brennan said that wasn’t in regards to his heartbreaking finals match. He said, “Dude, that Thomas Even kid is one of the funniest people in the world, I swear to God.” And I was like, “You mean the blonde kid from Bosco? 170 lber who was on the football highlights at Wells?” And he was like, “Yeah, him. He had me laughing my butt off the entire time. Every time my nerves were starting to get to me, he said something off the wall that made me start laughing and relax a little bit. Funniest person alive.” Coming from him, that’s huge, for he only laughs if something is legitimately funny. Have you always had a sense of humor like that? Are you like that in every sport? Did you make the grand march laugh last year when you were gearing up for your own finals match?

I like to think I’ve always had a pretty good sense of humor. Wrestling is such an up and down sport that I’ve found letting my sense of humor loose helps me and the people around me. That is why we bring a speaker to every wrestling meet and listen to throw back music. It gets everyone on the team relaxed. During the Grand March this year I messed around quite a bit as well. It was just another match for me. No matter what when it’s time to put your foot on the line all that goes away and it’s go time.

What do you have to say about Don Bosco fan base? What do you have to say to the non-Bosco fans who hate them for no reason?

Don Bosco has the best fan base in the state of Iowa. No questions asked. I believe people “hate” us because we have been consistently winning for a long time. I think people are simply jealous of us.

I have had several discussions with people in regards to who I think are the best potential D1 recruits in your class, and you are always near the top on my list. When I am asked to elaborate, I explain that I believe you have two factors going for you that are often looked past. 1.) A recent, ongoing spike in performance that shows no signs of regression. You have jumped levels from your Sophomore to Junior year and quickly. That shows that maybe you are a bit of a late bloomer in terms of development when compared to some kids who hit their stride before they were in high school.

And 2.) Your ceiling is high due to being incredibly athletic, as evidenced by the load of success you have achieved in multiple sports…not just wrestling. You may not be D1 level when you first enter the room, but your athletic ability will allow you to get there quickly. It’s just up to you to commit and buy in. What are your thoughts on natural athleticism and how it should be regarded in the recruiting process? Do you feel like it is not prioritized highly enough or do you feel like athleticism is taken into account as much as it should be in the recruiting process? What changes can be made to ensure that naturally athletic, successful multi-sporters are held in high regard on the recruiting trail despite not wrestling in some of these offseason tournaments?

I believe that multi sport athletes are far overlooked. In my opinion a good wrestler that wrestles all summer and just wrestles year around and doesn’t participate in anything else, shouldn’t always be prioritized over a good wrestler that is also a good at multiple other sports. If you think about it, the multi-sport athlete only trains for the sports they play when it’s in season. So if you are a good wrestler and only train during the season, just imagine how good you could be if you trained as much as the one sport athletes? Athleticism should be one of the most important factors when recruiting an athlete. But hey, what do I know? And to be clear, there are plenty of guys who just wrestle and only wrestle who are incredibly athletic…it makes me wonder how good they would do in the other sports they quit because of wrestling.

You are able to successfully work a powerful underhook series that will make a person reminisce of former Hawkeye National Champion, Royce Alger when he was at Lisbon High School. With that, you also have one of the quickest low singles that you will see from a bigger guy in the 182-195 range. And this is topped with one of the most powerful and effective neck-wrenches I have seen since 4 time state champion, Jesse Sundell of Ogden was tearing people up with it in the late 90’s-early 00’s. Who do you credit with showing you this arsenal of moves? Are you still building upon your arsenal?

My oldest brother Austin taught me the neck wrench and Joe Reiter taught me the low single. I have a lot of funk in my bag that no one but my practice partners have seen. I think for my last season I’m going to open up that bag a little more.

Do athletes from smaller schools have to prove themselves even more to college scouts? What does a successful small-school, multi-sporter have to do in order to prove their legitimacy as a recruit?

I do feel like it hurts to play eight-man football. I believe that many people don’t take us seriously. I truly think I can be a top tier running back in any class. I’m not sure what we can do other than completely dominate the competition.

You are able to do things that many wrestlers are not able to do and are able to be comfortable and successful in several situations where many wrestlers are uncomfortable and in serious danger. For example, there are times where it appears you may be heading straight for your back, but with an abrupt change in your own momentum, you seem to be able to turn the tables and put your opponent in trouble with seemingly minimal effort. How much of this is attributed to your athleticism? How easily are you able to instinctively scramble on the wrestling mat?

I give 100% of credit to my athleticism. Most the time I don’t have an exact plan of what I am doing I just go with what feels right and most the time it pays off. Even as a wrestler in a heavier weight class I believe I can scramble with the best.

Despite any personal frustration you may have had with your own experiences to this point, would you encourage an athletic wrestler who would also be successful in other sports to quit the other sports to focus on the one they will be participating in when they reach college, or would you encourage them to keep playing the other sports and to work hard at them all? What advice do you have for these athletes?

I would advise them to play all the sports they love while they can. I wouldn’t give up a single football game for a full ride to Iowa for wrestling. That’s just the way I am. I want to win in everything. Multiple facets of life. I want to be the best football player, the fastest runner and the best wrestler. And when it comes down to just one sport in college, the sky is the limit, for I will be ZONED IN. Just because I don’t commit to just one sport in high school, it doesn’t mean that I won’t have the ability to commit to one in college. And when I do commit to one, my ceiling is beyond the sky. Displaying success in multiple sports opposed to focusing on just one in high school should be a telling sign that I am a versatile and adaptable athlete that the coaches for whatever sport I decide to commit to in college can easily mold into one of the premier athletes on their squad. There is absolutely no limit on what I feel I can achieve given the athletic potential that I feel I possess. And I don’t mean to sound arrogant or cocky. I am confident in myself. Big difference. And confidence is yet another characteristic that the ideal recruit should possess.