Q A Brent Metcalf shooting for title at his first World ChampionshipsBrent Metcalf wins June's U.S. World Team Trials in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He made his first World Team. Larry Slater photo.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Brent Metcalf doesn't care that this is his first trip to the World Championships.
The two-time NCAA champion and Hodge Trophy winner for the Iowa Hawkeyes has only one objective in mind for when he steps on the mat for September's World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
He wants to stand on top of the medal platform with a gold medal hanging around his neck.
Metcalf finished his Hawkeye career by winning an NCAA title at 149 pounds in March in Omaha. He followed that up by winning the U.S. World Team Trials at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. in freestyle wrestling in June in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
He beat U.S. Open champion Jared Frayer in a tough three-match series in the finals of the World Team Trials.
Metcalf, 23, is at the U.S. Olympic Training Center this week for a National Team Camp. He is preparing for an upcoming trip to Baku, Azerbaijan for the Golden Grand Prix event next month.
Metcalf sat down with USA Wrestling communications manager Craig Sesker for an interview prior to Wednesday morning's practice.
How tough was it winning the Challenge Tournament in the Trials before beating Frayer in the best-of-3 finals?
It was great preparation for the World Championships. I was winning the way I needed to win. I was going to the legs and I was scoring. You beat guys because you went out there and outwrestled them. That's what it is going to take to win the World Championships - scoring, attacking and scoring often against these foreigners.
The final match with Frayer included a controversial finish in the leg clinch. In your view, what happened?
You go caution, caution and then that third one they want you to wrestle, so that's what you do, you go wrestle. I let him get in deep and they blew the whistle and I wrestled. It was a result of me wrestling because I scored a takedown. I think he had his hands locked, but it doesn't matter whether he did or not because the whistle blew and that's when I reacted. There is no need to get into it. I don't really want to debate it because the result is the result.
What was the key to beating Frayer for the first time?
It was wrestling the way Brent Metcalf wrestles. Getting to my offense and finishing. That was the difference. The first match I just stood around and played his game and got beat. It was a waste of a match. The second and third matches were more of the pace I needed to have. It was do or die. I felt really good with my offense and my finishes.
How important is the summer for you in preparing for the Worlds?
It's obviously important. Just getting that international experience will be beneficial. I've wrestled overseas and I've wrestled some of the best guys in the World. I've wrestled in Russia. I've been in the fire before. To get a taste of the foreigners again before the Worlds will be big for me because their style is so much different than what Americans wrestle.
Seeing Jake Herbert come out of college last year and win a World silver medal, what did you take from witnessing that?
Herbert went to the legs, he scored and he won. He was confident in his abilities and that's why he was successful. He won matches by attacking. You can't stand around and wait for a ball clinch. If you push your pace and push your offense, you are going to get what you want.
Your loss to Ohio State's Lance Palmer in the Big Ten finals, what kind of motivation did it give you going into the NCAAs?
You're always motivated. I think I would have been motivated to win a national title whether I won or lost at Big Tens. Losing that match did add motivation. Obviously I didn't want to lose to Lance Palmer because of my roots and where I am from. I didn't get down because of that loss and I didn't get too amped up either. I just put it behind me and moved forward.
How sweet was it to finish your college career with an NCAA title and a third straight team title for Iowa?
It was great. We had five guys in the finals. That's a good feeling - to have a team that is that dominant. I wish we had five champions. Jay Borschel finished with a title, and that was great. Matt McDonough, him winning as a freshman, that was exciting. The team result was more exciting to me. We didn't have 10 champions, but we accomplished a lot of what we wanted.
McDonough just made a Junior World Team in freestyle. How much upside does this kid have?
I think he just gets it. He understands how you should wrestle. He trains right and does what you are supposed to do. He buys into Coach (Tom) Brands' philosophy, and that's what has made him so successful.
You lost a year of college eligibility when you transferred to Iowa from Virginia Tech. Do you look back and feel cheated at all?
I wish that they wouldn't have taken that year away from me, but I don't regret moving to Iowa City and going there with Tom Brands one bit. Going to the University of Iowa was one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. The experience I gained in that year where I couldn't compete collegiately was huge for me. I wrestled freestyle and I had a chance to wrestle overseas. It was huge for my confidence going into the first year I was eligible to compete at Iowa. It helped me tremendously.
You talked at the NCAAs about winning multiple World and Olympic titles. How confident are you entering this next phase of your career?
It's not meant to be a cocky statement. You have to set an expectation for yourself. When I say I want to win multiple World and Olympic championships, I'm not trying to sound cocky at all. We need to go into the World Championships with an expectation of winning gold medals. That's how all the guys on this World Team should feel. That's what made the U.S. the best team in the World 10 years ago. We need that attitude that we want to be the best team in the World. Our expectations need to rise. There is no reason we can't be the best freestyle country in the World.
How well can this U.S. freestyle team do at the Worlds?
I know that if they stick with what we are taught we can do really well. You can't wait around and play games. You have to be aggressive and take it to your opponent.
How exciting is it to have a chance to wrestle on a stage as big as the World Championships?
It's really exciting. It's something you dream about. You don't dream about going to the World Championships, you dream about winning the World Championships. At the same time, it's not exciting if you don't win. I'm very excited to go in there to win.
You are going into Russia to compete at the Worlds. They are the dominant team in the World right now. What will it be like to walk in there and compete?
If you're going to win the World Championships, you might as well do it there because the World is going to be against you there. You are going to have to wrestle your butt off, and you're going to have to score maybe three times before you get credit for a score. And that's fine, that's fine. It's going to be tough. It's going to be a hostile environment, that's for sure. The best time to win a lot of times is in your opponent's home territory or on their home mat. We are going into the best country in the World's territory, and we are going to try and take something from them that they want.