Former Hawkeye Metcalf on freestyle mission

Metcalf attempts to make U.S. World Team for first time since 2010

Published: June 20 2013 | 2:08 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 4:51 pm in
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Brent Metcalf wants to reclaim some satisfaction.

He is chasing that feeling from a few years ago when he represented the United States at the 2010 World Championships.

After falling short in 2011 and being edged by the slimmest of margins at the 2012 Olympic Trials, Metcalf will attempt to become the country's top men's freestyle wrestler at 145.5 pounds during the U.S. World Team Trials on June 21-23 at Oklahoma State's Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

Metcalf is hungry to compete in the 2013 World Championships Sept. 16-22 in Budapest, Hungary.

"I'm pretty unsatisfied al the way back to 2011," Metcalf said. "I haven't had what I wanted the last two years and I'm ready to have it again."

Metcalf, a two-time NCAA champion and three-time national finalist for the University of Iowa, had to settle for second in those two previous opportunities. They add fuel to the fire, entering this new chance. He said he is poised to make the next step, putting himself in position to be a world champion.

"I have to make amends where I left off last year. I'm excited about it," said Metcalf, who added, "I'm always motivated, and all those thigns add to that motivation."

Iowa Associate Head Coach Terry Brands has watched Metcalf's recent progress. Metcalf has advanced by revisiting the strengths that elevated him above the competition in the past.

"It is a realization with him where he made his living in the sport of wrestling," Brands said. "He was a brawler. I think he has come to the realization that he is a brawler, he made his way into the sport as a brawler and if he's going to have success he's going to have to go out that way, too."

Brands said Metcalf resembles his form when he was a 2010 U.S. World Team member. The basics for wrestling don't change just because the style is different. Handfighting, positioning, focusing on your strengths, building leads and understanding fundamentals lead to winning is important.

"It's just an observation," Brands said, "I think he tried a different philosophy for a year or two. I think he knows now wrestling is wrestling no matter what the set of rules."

Freestyle has seen its own change in rules, following February's announcement the International Olympic Committee Executive Board suggested wrestling be removed from the core sports of the Olympics. In an effort to secure a provisional spot, wrestling changed some of its rules. Wrestling joined combination of baseball/softball and squash as finalists for that place in the 2020 Olympics, which will be voted on by the IOC general assembly in September in Rio de Janeiro.

Some of the changes affect scoring and match structure. For instance, a takedown in freestyle is now worth two instead of one point. The matches are two three-minute periods with cumulative scoring, replacing the best-of-three with separate scoring for each of the two-minute periods.

The longer periods and cumulative scoring was said to benefit the likes of Metcalf or anyone with greater stamina. Metcalf said he doesn't rely on that, even though it does favor the wrestler who is working harder and dictating the offense.

"At the end of the day, it comes down to scoring points and executing holds," Metcalf said. "That's what we tried to do with the old rules and now we're in a new system where if we do what we want to do, which is score points, we can really widen the gap."

Metcalf is ranked 10th in the world by FILA and third in the country by USA Wrestling. He finished second in the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix this year. Metcalf placed third at the 2013 U.S. Open behind former Michigan and Oklahoma State stars Kellen Russell and Jordan Oliver, who edged Metcalf in the semifinals.

The weight will be just as tough as Russell awaits the winner of the challenge tournament for a best-of-three series.

"You have guys in there that have proven their ability on the college scene and again did at the U.S. Open," Metcalf said. "It's up to me to get back what I want."

Former Hawkeye Phil Keddy will compete at 185, winning the 2013 Pan Am Championship and placing fifth at the U.S. Open. Keddy is capable and understands what he needs to do to contend for a top spot at the weight.

Like Metcalf, success depends how well he translate that into action.

"He knows where he's the most efficient in his wrestling," Brands said. "He knows the positions he needs to be in to be efficient.

"When he does execute, in those places, he's going to be a bear to beat."

Current Iowa assistant and former All-American Ryan Morningstar, from Lisbon, will compete in a loaded 163-pound division, including 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs, Cornell four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake, U.S. Open runner-up and Penn State NCAA champ David Taylor and 2012 Olympic Trials runner-up Andrew Howe.

Morningstar finished fourth at the U.S. Open and has seen limited competition since undergoing knee surgery after last year's Olympic Trials. Aggressiveness will be vital for Morningstar.

"He's got to get to the leg attack," Brands said. "He's deadly when he goes to the legs and he's mediocre when he stands around. He understands that."

Former University of Northern Iowa two-time All-American and Anamosa native Moza Fay has qualified for the 163-pound field with a sixth-place finish at the U.S. Open. Former Panther, Jordan Holm, qualified at 185 in Greco-Roman.

Among the Iowa State wrestlers qualified for the field are Trent and Travis Paulson and Jon Reader. Evan Brown, of Dubuque, competes for the Cyclone Wrestling Club and earned a spot with a third-place finish at the Cerra Pelado International at 184.

Tiffany Sluik, of Mason City, qualified in the 121-pound division of women's freestyle.

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