Metcalf's next step involves a world medal

BY CODY GOODWIN | JUNE 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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STILLWATER, Okla. — Brent Metcalf was smiling. He stood with a few of his new teammates — Reece Humphrey, Jordan Burroughs, and Keith Gavin — on the evening of June 22, making jokes and sharing laughs.

He was, at least it seemed, back where he belonged: on top of his weight class. Metcalf stood with the other members of the USA Freestyle National team, all of who were fresh off winning their respective weights at the 2013 World Team Trials.

But in his mind, the former-Hawkeye was already moving on — noticeable by his wanting to leave soon after he received his first-place plaque and first set of Team USA gear. Metcalf completed one crucial goal this past weekend — qualifying for the USA World Team — but he is ready to tackle the next item on his to-do list:  bringing home a World Championship medal.

“It’s probably a little bit less excitement and a little more driven and motivated,” Metcalf said about winning the 66-kilogram spot on the USA Men’s Freestyle 2013 World Team over the weekend. “… [But I’m] still trying to get to the top, which is a gold medal in Hungary.”

Metcalf, as most fans expected because of the new freestyle rules, returned to his old form this past weekend. He compiled a 5-0 record, outscoring his opponents 39-10 during the competition — and racked up an astounding 21-1 advantage after trailing 3-0 in the 66-kg Challenge Tournament Finals to Oklahoma State star Jordan Oliver.

It was a performance that many wrestling observers hadn’t seen from Metcalf in a while. After making the World Team in 2010 — he was bounced from the first round of the World Championships that year — he failed to make the team in 2011, as well as the Olympic Team last year in Iowa City.

It is also a display that most Hawkeye fans hope to see again in September when Metcalf heads to Budapest, Hungary, for the 2013 World Championships.

He knows that the rules are not entirely be in his favor against international competition – Metcalf said they weren’t exclusively beneficial to him this past weekend, either. But he proved that they could make a difference, should he train the right way in the months before Budapest.

“Particularly for Brent, he’ll start using counter-offense because defense is being reduced in the sport,” said Zeke Jones, the head coach of the USA Freestyle Wrestling Team. “For every time somebody attacks Brent, he’ll need to re-attack them twice. And that’s something he will do.”

Wrestling fans inside the historic Gallagher-Iba Arena got a taste of that when Metcalf swept former-Michigan wrestling Kellen Russell — with scores of 7-0 and 8-1 — in the best-of-three finals to clinch his spot on the World Team.

Russell couldn’t get a clear shot attempt on Metcalf during either match (mainly because Metcalf stayed low and used his head as the first line of defense). But the few times Russell was able to get a half-shot off, Metcalf capitalized with a re-shot that produced points every time.

That is one drill, of many, that Metcalf has worked tirelessly on with Iowa wrestling coaches Tom and Terry Brands. His finishes were key over the weekend en route to a spot on the World Team, and they will be even more crucial in Budapest come September.

“He doesn’t stop here,” Tom Brands said. “And the way that he’s wired, with a lot of energy, these rules do favor him. But this isn’t the highest level, but now we’re going to the highest level.

“You train every day, and you get better every day.”

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