Dec. 14, 2011
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Brent Metcalf returned home from London this week with a Gold medal in tow, just not the kind that lands you on the cover of a cereal box.
Metcalf, a two-time NCAA champion, won the gold medal at 66kg/145.5 lbs. in men's freestyle wrestling at the Olympic Test Event last Sunday. And he did so inside the ExCel Center, the same venue that hosts the 2012 London Olympics. But before you see the former Hawkeye performing a slideby on your breakfast table or redefining a hiplock on Dancing with the Stars, Metcalf will remind you a lot of wrestling has to happen before he makes a return trip to London as a member of Team USA.
"There is a lot of work to do before I start visualizing that," Metcalf said during a break inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. "You always think about (Olympic Gold) as the ultimate goal. That's part of your everyday life, but at the same time, you have to look short term. I'm looking forward to the next thing, which includes a few competitions in January. I'm not worried about (the Olympics), because it will come when it comes."
Metcalf performed well against an Olympic Test field that included Olympic hopefuls from around the world. He defeated two-time World bronze medalist Jabrayil Hasanov of Azerbaijan, 3-0, 0-1, 4-0, in the semifinals before blanking 2010 Junior World silver medalists Kotaro Tanaka of Japan in the finals, 5-0, 5-0. He was named Outstanding Wrestler in the men's freestyle competition and captured one of five medals won by Team USA.
"I think this atmosphere is an advantage for us. There will be wrestling fans here from all over the country, but I know there will be a lot of Hawkeye fans, and that will be exciting. I know being in this arena and knowing its history, knowing I've never lost in this arena, those sorts of things come into play. I feel good about having (the Trials) here, and I feel good about where I'm at competitively."
Former Hawkeye Brent Metcalf
"I feel really good about it," said Metcalf. "I didn't really give up a whole lot of offensive scores, and I was really able to get into my own offense and score. That's really what won the big matches for me. I didn't feel like I was ever in a position to squeak something out, and that's because I was building leads and taking control of the match."
National freestyle coach Zeke Jones referred to Metcalf as a monster, saying, "He nailed down his points and was downright stingy on defense. Huge improvements by him."
Jones must now decide who he'll send to Orlando in March to qualify Metcalf's weight class for the 2012 Olympics. The United States has qualified all but two weights - 60kg/132 lbs. and 66kg/145.5 lbs. Metcalf and Teyon Ware are the two likeliest candidates. Ware defeated Metcalf at the 2011 World Team Trials, but failed to place in the top six at the World Championships, which would have earned the USA a qualifying spot in the 66kg/145.5 lbs. class for the 2012 Olympics.
"It's up to our coach which guy is going to go," said Metcalf. "I hope it's me, and I'm preparing like it will be me. I feel good about myself going in there. But right now I need to continue doing what I do and take care of business."
Metcalf's current business includes training with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club and preparing for another international competition Jan. 7 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, where he'll meet Canadian Haislan Garcia during intermission of the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual. The event will be a competitive international match promoting USA Wrestling's Olympic Team Trials, which take place in Iowa City, Iowa, April 21-22, 2012.
Metcalf lost to Garcia in the semifinals at the 2009 Pan Am Games, 0-1, 3-1, 0-1, but today he's wrestling with confidence on the heels of his first international tournament title since 2007. Metcalf also knows the advantages of wrestling inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, advantages he hopes will benefit former Iowa wrestlers at the Olympic Team Trials. Former Hawkeyes Phil Keddy, Steve Mocco, Ryan Morningstar and Mike Zadick are also qualified for the event.
"I think this atmosphere is an advantage for us," said Metcalf. "There will be wrestling fans here from all over the country, but I know there will be a lot of Hawkeye fans, and that will be exciting. I know being in this arena and knowing its history, knowing I've never lost in this arena, those sorts of things come into play. I feel good about having (the Trials) here, and I feel good about where I'm at competitively."