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Focused Metcalf lands spot on FILA Junior World Team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Nobody could blame Brent Metcalf for being a little distracted right now.

After all, the talented young wrestler still doesn't know if he's going to be eligible to compete collegiately next season after he was denied the release he requested from his scholarship at Virginia Tech.

But no matter what happens off the mat in the next few months, nothing is going to divert Metcalf's razor-sharp focus and aggressive approach on the mat as he continues to dominate opponents.

That was abundantly clear when Metcalf took charge from the opening whistle in the 145.5-pound freestyle finals en route to sweeping past Mitch Mueller at the FILA Junior World Team Trials on Saturday afternoon.

Metcalf, who has been working out at the U.S. Olympic Training Center for the past month, had no trouble beating the Iowa State redshirt in a battle of Junior National champions. Metcalf overpowered Mueller in winning the first match 5-0, 2-0 at East Middle School in Colorado Springs. He followed with a methodical 2-1, 6-0 win in the second match to capture the best-of-3 series.

"He was a real strong kid, I just tried to make sure I outhustled him and outworked him," said Metcalf, a six-time Junior National champion. "I just had to keep attacking and stay after it. You can't let up out there."

Metcalf now advances to the FILA Junior World Championships on Aug. 29-Sept. 3 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Also earning a trip to Guatemala on Saturday in freestyle were Pat McCaffrey (110 pounds), Henry Cejudo (121) and Coleman Scott (132). Landing spots on the FILA Junior World Team in Greco-Roman on Saturday were Andrew Bisek (163), Chas Betts (185), Robbie Smith (211.5) and Erik Nye (264.5).

Nye added the Greco-Roman title to the freestyle crown he earned on Friday. He won two straight matches over Brandon Rupp in the Greco-Roman finals.

Metcalf had a bye to the finals Saturday by virtue of winning the FILA Junior Nationals in April. He met Mueller after the Cyclone freshman worked his way through a tough class to win the Challenge Tournament at 145.5 earlier in the day.

Metcalf said he has already planned on following Tom Brands, who recruited him to Virginia Tech, to the University of Iowa next season. Even if it means he loses a year of eligibility. Metcalf redshirted at Virginia Tech last season, but if he is not granted his release to transfer to another school he will not be eligible next season.

Metcalf was one of five Virginia Tech wrestlers who had asked for their release, but were denied by the school shortly after Brands left to take the head coaching job at Iowa.

"I think we're going to try to take this to court, but I'm not sure how much luck we're going to have," Metcalf said. "I'm going to Iowa no matter what happens. I just want to wrestle. If I can't wrestle next year, I'm just going to have to accept it and move on. It's pretty frustrating to know I may have to sit out another year. We'll see what happens."

Metcalf has developed a close bond with Tom Brands.

"He's a great coach, a great role model and he's like a friend, too," Metcalf said. "I've learned so much from him. I love being around him."

While he hopes to join Tom Brands in Iowa City, Metcalf now is being coached by his twin brother Terry at the Olympic Training Center. Terry Brands is USA Wrestling's Freestyle Resident Coach. Metcalf plans to stay in Colorado Springs all summer.

"It's been great to be down here with Terry," Metcalf said. "He's done a real nice job keeping my mind focused on wrestling. Training with Terry is just like working with Tom. They're identical in just about every way. They're both great coaches and they're both intense. It's been an easy transition coming out here to work with Terry."

McCaffrey looked impressive in rolling past FILA Junior Nationals champion Marty Eng by scores of 4-0, 6-0 and 4-0, 1-0. McCaffrey dictated the tempo from the outset of the 110-pound finals, putting on a dominant display with an assortment of leg attacks. McCaffrey was third in the Junior World Championships last year.

Another wrestler looking to move up the Junior World ladder is Cejudo, the 121-pounder who was pushed in two very competitive bouts with Franklin Gomez. Cejudo swept the two matches by scores of 1-0, 3-1 and 2-0, 4-0, but Gomez made Cejudo work for every point. Gomez shot in to take a 1-0 lead on a leg attack in the second period of the first match. But Cejudo, fifth at the Junior World meet last year, quickly regrouped to take control.

Gomez, a redshirt at Michigan State, was a Junior National champion in freestyle and Greco-Roman last year. He was a FILA Junior National champion this year.

"I wrestled (Gomez) quite a bit when we were younger," Cejudo said. "He's a real tough kid."

Cejudo, the reigning U.S. Nationals champion, was competing for the third straight weekend. He was second at the U.S. World Team Trials two weeks ago and won the Pan American Championships last weekend in Brazil. He is headed to Russia for a tournament next weekend.

"It's been a little rough the last three weeks with all the weight-cutting and everything," Cejudo said. "But this is what I need to do. Experience is what I'm lacking, so I'm trying to compete as much as I possibly can. I need to keep wrestling and learning from my mistakes."

The 19-year-old Cejudo has won two straight events after falling to World champion and Olympic silver medalist Sammie Henson in the finals of the U.S. World Team Trials late last month.

"I learned a lot from those matches with Sammie," Cejudo said. "I'm working on a few things and I'm not going to stop until I get it right."

The only finals series to go the distance in the two-day FILA Junior World Team Trials was the 132-pound freestyle battle between NCAA runner-up Troy Nickerson of Cornell and two-time NCAA All-American Coleman Scott of Oklahoma State.

They split the first two matches before Scott used his clear edge in size to win the final bout 1-0, 3-0. Scott also was fresher for the third match with Nickerson as he skipped the Challenge Tournament by virtue of winning the FILA Junior Nationals. Nickerson wrestled three matches in the Challenge Tournament before meeting Scott in the finals.

Two of the day's best matches came in the same weight class in Greco-Roman. Smith swept Corey Morrison in two high-intensity, action-packed bouts at 211.5. Smith won the first match 4-5, 2-1, 1-1 over the athletic Morrison and then followed with a 4-2, 6-3 win in the second match. Smith won FILA Junior Nationals and University Nationals earlier this year.

The other two titles in Greco-Roman belonged to Minnesota Storm teammates Bisek and Betts. Bisek swept Phil Meinert in the finals at 163 while Betts won two straight over Jesse Robbins at 185.

The other half of the FILA Junior World Team qualified on Friday. Making the team on Friday in freestyle were Matthew Coughlin (163), Louis Caputo (185), Max Askren (211.5) and Erik Nye (264.5). Making the FILA Junior World Team on Friday in Greco-Roman were Eric Grajales (110), Spenser Mango (121), Brett Robbins (132) and Jason Robbins (145.5). All seven best-of-3 matchups on Friday were sweeps.
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