By Mike Finn
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Just like that, Brent Metcalf’s hopes of earning a medal were over when Italy’s Frank Marquez caught Iran’s Seyedahmad Mohammadi in a headlock and pinned the World’s top-ranked wrestler during the semifinals at 65 kilos (143 pounds), the first men’s weight contested in the 2015 UWW World Championships in the Orleans Arena on Thursday.
Had Mohammadi, who was leading 2-0 before Marquez scored the stunning fall at the 2:40 mark, been able to hold on and reach the finals, Metcalf — the World’s second-ranked wrestler — would have found himself in repechage (consolation) of the tournament with a good chance at claiming a bronze.
Instead, Metcalf could only accept the fact that he won one more World Championships matches than he did a year ago and now stands 3-4 in four all-time World Championships.
“I was nervous about that semifinal match,” Metcalf said. “I’ve worked out with (Marquez) before and he’s really dangerous and very explosive. He was doing a good job and you see what happened.”
Metcalf was more upset with himself than anyone else, especially when he was unable to score any takedowns until the second period of his 5-4 loss in the third round to Mohammadi.
“I had a very tough opponent and I cannot give head positioning,” Metcalf said. “I cannot let him control the pace early. When I lose to a good opponent, I have to put that on me to get better and figure it out.
“I was able to score because I was creating angles and offense. But ultimately, it goes back to the pace. He controlled the pace and he controlled the tie-ups. That slowed down the match from where I wanted to be. If you are going to be the best in the world, you can’t let someone control you.”
Metcalf was also fortunate that he reached the second-round match with a 5-3 win over China’s Katai Yeerlanbieke, who got around Metcalf as the final seconds ticked off but could not break his base for the takedown.
“I knew what was coming and he has one of those aggressive driving battles,” said Metcalf, who will now have to qualify the weight class for the United States before next year’s 2016 Olympic Trials in his current hometown of Iowa City. “I have to find a way to be a better wrestler in many different positions.”
Meanwhile, three more men’s weights will be contested on Friday with Reece Humphrey (61k/134), Jake Herbert (86k/189) and Kyle Snyder (97k/213) competing in the Orleans Arena. The remaining four USA men’s freestyle wrestlers will compete on Saturday, the final day of this year’s World Championships.
Highlights of Brent Metcalf’s World Championship matches
Prelim — won by TF over Norbert Lukacs (Hungary), 11-0
Metcalf recorded his first point from Lukacs’ passivity 1:23 into the match before the former Hawkeye scored five straight takedowns — three via a low single and two off doubles — to end the bout with 4:09 on the clock.
1st round — def. Katai Yeerlanbieke (China), 5-3
Metcalf got a major scare when the Chinese wrestler was able to get on top of the American with five seconds left, but could not break down Metcalf’s base for a takedown; giving Metcalf the victory. The final point came when officials denied Yeerlanbieke’s protest. Metcalf, put on the shot clock, scored a takedown at the 1:43 mark, then gave up a pair of points as the first period ended. Yeerlanbieke was later awarded another point at the 4:54 mark when Metcalf failed to score after being put on a shot clock.
2nd round — lost to Seyedahmad Mohammadi (Iran), 5-4
The second-ranked Metcalf scored all his points off two takedowns in the second period, including the final off a single at the 5:54 mark but could not score any more and lost to the World’s No. 1-ranked opponent. Mohammadi also scored a pair of takedowns, including off a double at the 2:18 mark and off a single with 21 seconds left after Metcalf’s first takedown at the 3:39 mark closed the gap to 3-2.
Gold-Medal Match — Frank Chamizo Marquez (Italy) dec. Ikhtiyor Navruzov (Uzbekistan), 4-3
Bronze-Medal Match — Soslan Ramonov (Russia) dec. Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia), 6-1
Bronze-Medal Match — Seyedahmad Mohammadi (Iran) won by TF over Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan), 15-5