U.S. Olympic Team Trials men's freestyle preview at 65 kg/143 lbs.

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | March 27, 2016, 4:37 p.m. (ET)
 
 Brent Metcalf competing at the 2016 Pan American Olympic Games
Qualifier. Photo: Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com.
Date of Competition: Saturday, April 9

Weight currently qualified for the Olympic Games? No

One would be hard-pressed to find a deeper and more exciting weight class to be contested at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa than 65 kg/143 lbs.

Four athletes competing at 65 kg have represented the U.S. at a World Championships with three of them going to Worlds last year. Moreover, eight wrestlers in the field have combined to win 14 NCAA Division I titles.

Four-time U.S. World Team member Brent Metcalf (Iowa City, Iowa/New York AC/Hawkeye WC) has controlled 65 kg the past three years since falling in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials finals to retired Olympian Jared Frayer.

Metcalf owns wins over multiple World medalists this quadrennial, but has come up just short of a medal in each of his World Championship performances. Last year in Las Vegas, Metcalf fell in the 65 kg quarterfinals to the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the World at the time and eventual World bronze medalist, Sayed Mohammadi (Iran), 5-4. Overall, he finished in 10th place at the World Championships.

A two-time NCAA champion for Iowa, Metcalf owns international gold medals from the World Cup (2014, 2015), Golden Grand Prix Finals and Pan American Games this quadrennial. He also finished in second place at the ever-tough Ivan Yargyin Grand Prix in 2013 and 2015.

Metcalf wrestled for the U.S. at the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifier in early March, but was unable to place in the top two and qualify the weight for the Olympics. He dropped a controversial quarterfinal match to Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico), 9-7, at the event.

The only U.S. wrestler to defeat Metcalf the last three years is two-time U.S. World Team Trials runner-up Jordan Oliver (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids).

Oliver has proven to be the top contender to Metcalf the past two years by emerging from the grueling challenge brackets at the previous two U.S. World Team Trials to face Metcalf in the best two-of-three finals.

We have not seen Oliver compete much outside of the U.S. in recent years, but he did pick up a bronze medal at the Yasar Dogu International in 2015 and won the Bill Farrell International last November. He is a two-time NCAA champion for Oklahoma State.

Not to be outdone at 65 kg is 2015 World bronze medalist James Green (Lincoln, Neb./Titan Mercury WC).

Green’s star shone bright in Las Vegas last September as he captured the World bronze medal at 70 kg/154 lbs. in impressive fashion, posting three technical falls and a fall in the bronze medal match. He has made tremendous strides since finishing in third place at the 2015 U.S. Open. Green hasn’t lost to a U.S. competitor since said tournament.

A four-time NCAA All-American for Nebraska at 157 pounds, Green is another wrestler making the weight sacrifice for the Olympic year. He competed at 65 kg for the first time at the Pan American Championships in February earning second place.

Green won a silver medal at the 2014 University World Championships.

The third past U.S. World Team member entering 65 kg is last year’s U.S. World Championships representative at 61 kg/134 lbs. Reece Humphrey (Columbus, Ohio/New York AC/Ohio RTC).

Humphrey has made three World Teams for the U.S., but similar to Metcalf has come up just shy of a medal each time. He finished in third place at the U.S. Open this year after making the move up to 65 kg.

The two-time NCAA All-American for Ohio State has earned silver and bronze medals at the University World Championships. Humphrey is a three-time U.S. Open champion.

Jimmy Kennedy (Ann Arbor, Mich./New York AC/Cliff Keen WC) rounds out the past U.S. World Team members to compete at 65 kg in Iowa City.

In 2014, Kennedy finished in 10th place at the World Championships. He was the third place finisher at the 65 kg U.S. World Team Trials behind Metcalf and Oliver last year.

Kennedy has been quite impressive internationally this quadrennial, earning eight overseas medals since the 2013 season. He was the U.S. Open champion in December over all the top contenders at 65 kg save Metcalf, Oliver and Green.

Nobody has been more active internationally this season than four-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber (Columbus, Ohio/Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC).

Since November, Stieber has won silver medals at the Bill Farrell International, Golden Grand Prix Finals, U.S. Open and Outstanding Ukrainian Memorial. He also tacked on a bronze medal at the Alexander Medved International.

Cadet World champion and two-time Junior World medalist Aaron Pico (Whittier, Calif./Titan Mercury WC) is looking to make some noise in his first trip to the U.S. World Team Trials.

The 19-year-old earned bronze medals at the Bill Farrell International and Alexander Medved International this year. Pico finished in fourth place at the U.S. Open in December.

Five other NCAA champions, Kellen Russell (Ann Arbor, Mich./New York AC/Cliff Keen WC), Frank Molinaro (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC), Jayson Ness (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm), Dean Heil (Brunswick, Ohio/Cowboy WC) and Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa./Nittany Lion WC), are expected to compete at 65 kg in Iowa City.

Russell and Molinaro qualified for the Trials by finishing in fifth and sixth place at the U.S. Open, respectively.

Ness booked his trip to Iowa City by taking top prize at the Dave Schultz Memorial International in January.

Both Heil and Retherford just capped off the 2016 college season by earning NCAA individual championships, Heil at 141 pounds for Oklahoma State and Retherford at 149 pounds for Penn State. The NCAA titles qualified them for the Trials.

Past NCAA runner-up Jason Chamberlain (Lincoln, Neb./Titan Mercury WC) is also qualified for the field courtesy of a seventh place finish at the U.S. Open.

One more athlete will be added to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials field at 65 kg with the Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier being held next weekend in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Only the champion at the Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier will qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

For more information on the U.S. Olympic Team Trials visit the official event website iowacitytorio.com.

U.S. Olympic Team Trials Qualifiers as of March 27

65 kg/143 lbs.
’15 World Team member – Brent Metcalf, Iowa City, Iowa (New York AC/Hawkeye WC)
’15 World Team member – Reece Humphrey, Columbus, Ohio (New York AC/Ohio RTC)
’15 World Team member – James Green, Lincoln, Neb. (Titan Mercury WC)
’15 Bill Farrell International champion – Jordan Oliver, Tempe, Ariz. (Sunkist Kids)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier champion – Jimmy Kennedy, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC/Cliff Keen WC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier runner-up – Logan Stieber, Columbus, Ohio (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier fourth place – Aaron Pico, Whittier, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier fifth place – Kellen Russell, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC/CKWC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier sixth place – Frank Molinaro, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
’15 Olympic Trials Qualifier seventh place – Jason Chamberlain, Lincoln, Neb. (Titan Mercury WC)
’16 Dave Schultz Memorial champion – Jayson Ness, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
’16 NCAA Div. I champion – Dean Heil, Brunswick, Ohio (Oklahoma State/Cowboy WC)
’16 NCAA Div. I champion – Zain Retherford, Benton, Pa. (Penn State/Nittany Lion WC)
’16 Final Olympic Trials Qualifier champion -