The Hawkeyes were also disappointed by the defeat of their 134-pounder, Randy Lewis, who twice had won NCAA titles. But Lewis had severely damaged his elbow before the tournament. Still, Lewis—and Gable—gave everyone a lesson in what competition really means in his quarterfinal match with Iowa State's Jim Gibbons, the man who had injured Lewis earlier in the season. During the match, Gibbons was assessed a penalty point for slamming Lewis to the mat improperly; Lewis could have declined to continue, and he would have won by forfeit. But when someone suggested that to Gable, the coach sniffed, "We don't win that way." Lewis went on—and lost to Gibbons, 13-6.
But other schools had more disappointments than Iowa. Oklahoma, which came in with serious hopes of challenging Iowa, was blitzed early. The Sooners won two titles, Andre Metzger (142) and Mark Schultz (167), but a heavy favorite, Mark's brother, Dave, lost in the 158-pound finals. Dave is intent on international competition and doesn't exactly mouth the stuff of which OU recruiting brochures are made. Even before Dave lost, he was saying, "You've got to be crazy to wrestle. Everybody knows there's no money in it, and the way Title IX is going, there probably won't be any wrestling either. Plus, I don't like school. I'm just going along, making a little progress toward a degree. I guess I'm just a flake." Says one teammate, "He's a flake."
The winner of the outstanding wrestler award was Syracuse's Gene Mills, who admits that a guy who wrestles has "something loose upstairs." Mills, who won at 118 for the second time, was easily the most exciting performer in Princeton. His many admirers call him "Mean Gene the Pinning Machine," and he lived up to his reputation by pinning four of his five NCAA opponents.
Energy has always poured out of Gene Mills, too.