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|Brent Metcalf excited about opportunity to compete at Dave Schultz Memorial International|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Brent Metcalf would rather be in Iowa City right now.
He would rather be rolling around in the wrestling room with his teammates at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and preparing to make a run at his first NCAA championship at 149 pounds.
But at the same time his Iowa team was practicing on Thursday afternoon, Metcalf was two states away in Colorado and standing near the front of the line waiting to weigh in for this weekend's Dave Schultz Memorial International Open.
College wrestling's loss is international wrestling's gain as the promising young standout will compete in the 66 kg/145.5 pound weight class in freestyle on Friday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Metcalf redshirted during the 2005-06 season at Virginia Tech and transferred to the University of Iowa when Tom Brands left Blacksburg, Va., last spring to become the Hawkeyes' new head coach. But Virginia Tech refused to release Metcalf and four other transfers from their scholarships, making them ineligible to compete during their freshman seasons for Iowa.
"Yeah, it's been difficult not having a chance to compete," Metcalf said. "At the same time, I have goals such as this tournament to look forward to. I kind of knew when I transferred to Iowa it could end being a situation where I wouldn't get to wrestle in college for a year. I've just tried to turn it into a positive and keep getting better in folkstyle and freestyle."
Metcalf, a six-time Junior Nationals champion, has not spent much time sitting around feeling sorry for himself. He competed in the Junior World Championships this past summer in freestyle. He spent a majority of the summer training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
The Davison, Mich., native has spent the 2006-07 season wrestling in both folkstyle and freestyle competitions. He has competed unattached in three open college tournaments, winning all three en route to compiling a 14-0 record at 149 pounds. He won Omaha's rugged Kaufman-Brand Open in November. That event included a number of top Division I teams.
Metcalf also has found time to wrestle in international events in freestyle. He failed to place at the Sunkist Kids International Open in October, but he came back to win his first Senior-level title at November's Clansmen International in Canada.
"I am really focused on freestyle right now, and competing in a lot of these tournaments is great preparation for what I want to do after college," Metcalf said. "Winning that tournament gave me a good boost. I want to win an Olympic title someday, so all these freestyle matches have really helped me."
Metcalf is part of a tough 66 kg bracket in the Dave Schultz event that includes 2005 World champion Alan Dudaev of Russia. That weight class also includes 2006 U.S. World Team Trials runner-up Jared Frayer and third-place finisher Jared Lawrence along with past World University Games champion Jesse Jantzen.
"I'm real excited about this tournament," Metcalf said. "I will get a chance to wrestle our country's best and then some of the international guys that are over here. I am hoping to wrestle well here and put myself in good position for the U.S. Open."
Metcalf, who competes for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, has developed a close bond with Tom Brands, his coach and mentor.
"I have so much respect for that guy," Metcalf said of Brands. "I would do anything he asked me to. If he asked me to jump off a cliff, I'm going to do it. At the same time, he really cares about us as people. He does a good job keeping me on track as a student and an athlete. I couldn't ask for a better coach.
"The first thing Coach Brands said to me when he called me up the first time he ever talked to me was, 'Do you want to win an Olympic title?' And I said, 'Yes sir.' He's recruiting guys who want to eventually be the best in the World. And along with that comes the national titles and everything else in college."
Brands scored a major coup while at Virginia Tech by landing Metcalf, who won four state titles for Davison High school while compiling a spotless 228-0 record with a whopping 156 pins.
The athletic, 5-foot-7 Metcalf also has no shortage of workout partners. In addition to working out with his college teammates, Metcalf wrestles against World silver medalist Mike Zadick and former Hawkeye standout Doug Schwab. Zadick and Schwab both are still competing internationally. Zadick and Schwab are assistant coaches at Iowa.
"It's going great for me in the practice room," Metcalf said. "I have a lot more guys to work out with and that has really helped me improve. It's a great place to train."
When Metcalf is in Colorado, Terry Brands, USA Wrestling's Resident Freestyle Coach, works with him. The Brands twins combined to win three World titles, an Olympic gold medal and an Olympic bronze medal.
"Terry's just like Tom, real intense and a real good coach," Metcalf said. "He's helped me a lot."
Dave "Doc" Bennett, USA Wrestling's Freestyle Developmental Coach, said he is impressed with Metcalf.
"Brent is a real hard worker," Bennett said. "He's a competitor, he seems to love the sport and he knows what it takes to get himself ready. I think he has a real bright future ahead in this sport. He has that same hard-grinding mentality that his coach had when he competed. He's the perfect match for Tom Brands with his work ethic and his intensity, and I would expect big things from Brent in the future."
Bennett said don't be surprised to see Metcalf pull off some big wins this weekend.
"I think Brent is capable of doing very well, even though he hasn't wrestled very much on the Senior level," Bennett said. "It is kind of a different world stepping from that collegiate and Junior level to the Senior level, but he certainly is one of the guys we hope can make that step and make it quickly like Henry Cejudo did."
Metcalf was asked if he was bitter about Virginia Tech's refusal to release him from his scholarship.
"I just have to move on and take it for what it is," he said. "I just have to keep moving forward and not look back."
There has been talk Metcalf might take an Olympic redshirt in 2008, but he said that it is just talk.
"No, I won't be taking an Olympic redshirt," Metcalf said. "I don't need another year off from college. I'll be wrestling for the Hawkeyes next year."
The 20-year-old Metcalf has three years of college eligibility remaining. He said he can't wait to put on a Hawkeye singlet and wrestle in front of the fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the first time.
"It's going to be real exciting," he said. "I'm definitely looking forward to it and looking forward to helping the program keep moving in the right direction. The fan support at Iowa is great and the atmosphere at Carver-Hawkeye is great. It's going to be fun to be out there wrestling next year."
In other news from the Dave Schultz event, Olympian and three-time World Team member Daniel Cormier is planning to compete at heavyweight this weekend.
USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Kevin Jackson said Cormier, who previously competed at 96 kg/211.5 lbs., is going to move up a class to 120 kg/264.5 lbs. this weekend. Cormier made the 2003, 2005 and 2006 World Teams, in addition to being a 2004 Olympian. Cormier placed fifth at the 2003 World Championships and fourth in the 2004 Olympics.
Cormier, a past NCAA runner-up from Oklahoma State, could meet another former Cowboy standout this weekend. Two-time NCAA champion Steve Mocco also is entered at 120 kg. Cormier and Mocco both live and train in Stillwater, Okla. The freestyle heavyweights are scheduled to compete on Saturday.