Metcalf seeks to outdo Iowa greats

BY RYAN YOUNG | MARCH 23, 2010 7:30 AM

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Brent Metcalf never bothered with fitting into a standardized mold.

During his four years in Iowa City, he was too busy fashioning his own.

Moments after claiming his second NCAA championship with a 3-2 win over top-seeded Ohio State senior Lance Palmer March 20, Metcalf sat in a makeshift interview room defining and reflecting on his three dominant seasons at Iowa.

And in his mind, his three career losses — one against Palmer and two against North Carolina’s Darrion Caldwell — stick out like dandelions in a rose garden.

“You know what, I think people wanted a champion,” he said. “And I was a champion. But I think you remove those losses, you’ve got one heck of a champion.”

Even with three memorable defeats, though, Metcalf composed a collegiate career that measures up to the best of the program.

His 108-3 career record and .973 winning percentage ranks second in Hawkeye history among wrestles who competed in at least 95 matches. Only T.J. Williams has tallied better numbers, totaling 98 victories and one loss for a .990 winning rate.

And as Iowa’s fourth two-time NCAA champion since 2000, Metcalf stands as the Hawkeyes’ 15th all-time — a prestigious list that includes Olympic gold medal winners Lou Banach, Randy Lewis, and Terry McCann.

In 2008, after winning his first national title as a sophomore, he also became the second Iowa grappler to win the Dan Hodge Trophy — wrestling world’s Heisman equivalent — ending a decade-long drought that began in 1998 with Mark Ironside, another two-time NCAA champion.

Awards aside, Iowa head coach Tom Brands said Metcalf’s greatest accomplishment came during first season as a Hawkeye. Two years removed from high school and fresh off his transfer from Virginia Tech, the former undefeated Michigan prep standout kept his teammates on a taut leash.

“What we have going in that room is because of him,” Brands said. “This is a work in progress where when he came in, he was competing for that alpha-male role. And he held a lot of guys accountable, and he made the entire team better because of that.”

Indirectly, Metcalf bettered himself as well.

The three-time All-American credited a significant portion of his senior-season success to redshirt freshman Matt McDonough, who also won a national title in Omaha. Metcalf said the sprightly 125-pounder kept him in line inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex, challenging him to do extra drills after practice.

McDonough, however, views his relationship with Metcalf as mutually beneficial.

“He’s been there, done that” McDonough said. “He’s finishing up his career, and I think it’s just something where sometimes you see things as a freshman you don’t see as a senior. And sometimes you see things as a senior you don’t see as a freshman.”

Metcalf said he hopes to remain apart of the team he’s helped to build alongside Brands through a to-be-determined role while he trains for international competition.

His first post-college tournament? The U.S. Open wrestling championships in Cleveland on April 22.
His top priority? Becoming the first former Iowa wrestler to capture two Olympic gold medals.

“Coach said, ‘You know, how many Olympic gold medals did Tom Brands win? One. How many did Dan Gable win? One.’ ”

“Got to win two,” Metcalf said, his thumbs pointed at his chest. “Got to win two.”

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