Calm Metcalf ready for World Championships


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There was a time when it wouldn’t have been wise to tease Brent Metcalf. As a member of the Iowa wrestling team, he was, in a word, robotic; a relentless scoring machine with an impenetrable mind, sound technique, and a frightening scowl.

Nowadays, though, Metcalf has been getting teased often. He’s been smiling a lot in the run up to the 2014 FILA World Championships — which set to start early on the morning of Sept. 8  in Tashkent, Uzbekistan — and it’s something his teammates and wrestling fans aren’t used to.

“I think they’re making a bigger deal out of that than it really is,” Metcalf said, then noticeably chuckled on the phone. “I don’t know. You get further along in your career, and maybe you start to appreciate the opportunities you have more.”

This will be Metcalf’s third time at the FILA World Championships, where he’s a combined 0-2. He first qualified for Team USA straight out of college in 2010, then had to work a little harder to make the team again last year. He’ll be competing at 65 kilograms, roughly 143 pounds.

Metcalf, now 28, admits he’s calmer than he might’ve been in years past. He attributes that to experience and confidence that comes with wrestling in international events in recent months.

This summer has arguably been Metcalf’s most successful. In early May, at a Beat the Streets event in New York, he beat Russia’s Magomed Kurbanaliev, who’s ranked No. 1 in the world, according to FILA, wrestling’s international governing body. (Metcalf is ranked 11th in the latest rankings.)

Then, in late July, he won the Final Golden Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan, over some tough international opponents.

“He went back to the basics, as far as the same kind of focus and drive and determination that he had when he was in college,” Iowa associate head coach Terry Brands said. “He looked good. He looks ready, but he looked that way last year, too.”

Last year, Metcalf entered the world championships as one of the favorites to win it all. Coaches and teammates agreed that he had done all he could to prepare for the competition.

But in the first round, he drew Iran’s Mehdi Taghavi, another one of the weight’s favorites. Metcalf lost, 5-2, and after Teghavi lost in the next round, Metcalf was bounced from the tournament.

“It’s never been about the hard work. He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever been around,” said Bruce Burnett, Team USA’s head freestyle coach. “It still has to do with identifying some problems and maybe getting a little better at a couple positions.

“He’s on track. He’s ready to wrestle.”

Metcalf expressed that same eagerness before he went overseas for training camp. He said the experience of having gone through this process before added to his excitement.

And the moment he steps on the mat, he said, the calm Metcalf will disappear, and he’ll have only one goal on his mind.

“I’ve been through it twice now,” he said. “I believe in myself. I know I have the ability to go and win this thing.

“I don’t know if I believe in luck, necessarily, but if luck is what it’s going to take to win it, I’ll take it, for sure.”

Follow @codygoodwin on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa wrestling team.

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