Will third time be a charm for Metcalf at Worlds?

Updated: June 10, 2014

(Editor’s Note: On May 31 and June 1, USA Wrestling hosted Phase I of the World Team Trials in Madison, Wisc., where 12 of the 24 spots on the 2014 World Team were filled in either men’s or women’s freestyle. Six Greco berths will be filled June 13 in Daytona Beach, Fla., while the remaining six spots over the three styles will be determined during the Junior/Cadet Nationals, July 19-24, in Fargo, N.D. In honor of this seven-week period of World Team Trials events, WIN is providing features on those who have qualified to compete in Uzebekistan in September.)

By Mike Finn

Shortly after Brent Metcalf defeated Jordan Oliver for the 65-kilogram (143-pound) spot on this year’s World Team on June 1, the men’s freestyle star found himself surrounded by many members of the media at Phase I of the World Team Trials in Madison, Wisc.

But there was another hand that reached out to Metcalf that did not hold a video or audio recorder to capture the post-match comments by the former NCAA champion and Hodge Trophy winner from Iowa.

It was Terry Brands, the college and freestyle coach of Metcalf, who wanted to congratulate the former Hawkeye.

“He probably wanted me to shut up,” laughed Metcalf, who defeated the Challenge tournament winner Oliver, 4-2 and 3-0, to earn a third shot at a World championship.

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Brent Metcalf (right) rallied to beat Jordan Oliver 4-2 in the first of two Championship Series wins before the former Iowa Hawkeye shut out the former Oklahoma State Cowboy 3-0 in the second bout in Madison, Wisc. (Ginger Robinson photo)

And while Metcalf may be more confident of his wrestling skills than ever before, the 27-year-old native of Davison, Mich., knows he will need more than words to accomplish something he did not do in either of his other two Worlds in Moscow in 2010 and to Budapest, Hungary, last September.

And that is win right out of the gates, Metcalf went 0-1 in both of his two previous World Championships; losing to Otar Tushisvili of Georgia in 2010 and to Mehdi Taghavi of Iran in 2013. In neither event did Metcalf get a chance to wrestle back.

But this is the same Metcalf who went 5-0 at last spring’s World Cup in Los Angeles, including an 11-8 win over Iran’s Meisam Nasiri. Two months later, he won by an identical score against Russia’s Magomed Kurbanaliev in the Beat the Streets Gala in New York City’s Times Square.

“I think I’ve got a lot of experience on an international scene,” Metcalf said. “It’s time to put it all together and getting what I want.”

The reality is that the United States has not faired well at this weight class. Since Doug Schwab last won a match at the former FILA weight class of 145.5 pounds in the 2007 World Championships, the United States is a combined 0-8 at the highest level of World/Olympic competition. In addition to Schwab and Metcalf failing to win, former World Team members Trent Paulson (2009), Teyon Ware (2011) and Jared Frayer (2012) dropped their first match in each of their trips to the Worlds as well.

Metcalf said the key to winning at this year’s Worlds was improving his offensive skills.

“I think getting to guys early and scoring early will help me become a World champion,” said Metcalf, who was forced to rally to defeated Oliver in the first of two bouts in the Alliant Energy Center.

“You’re talking about urgency,” Metcalf said about falling behind. “When you put me down, it starts making things happen.  I was scoring points off flurries (against Oliver).”

In turn, Metcalf also showed he could be stingy in giving up points.

“I don’t call them my defensive skills,” Metcalf said. “I call it good positioning. You call it good wrestling. The second match (vs. Oliver) was a good example where he didn’t even get a sniff (of scoring).”

Metcalf said he would use this same mentality over the summer in training for the Worlds that will be held in Uzbekistan this September.

“I will continue to build, probably the same things I’ve been doing,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to Terry Brands and the work we put in on a daily basis. I have to continue to be there, talking about positions, talking about my offense.”