Brent Metcalf on His Toughest Wrestling Match
Editor’s Note: Twenty-eight-year-old Brent Metcalf from Iowa City, Iowa, is ranked number one in the nation in freestyle wrestling, the type that takes place in the Olympic Games and in the World Games. Metcalf is eyeing a third national title with hopes of competing on the USA Olympic Team in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Metcalf, who’s passionate about wrestling, hunting and the outdoors, is a member of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff and has been wrestling during and since elementary school. According to Metcalf, “I want to try and harvest as many different species of animals as I can with my bow and arrow. Specifically I dream of one day having the opportunity to harvest a moose and a grizzly bear with a bow and arrow. I am so passionate about archery because that’s mostly all I know. My father introduced me to archery a long time before I ever sat in a tree stand – at age 8. I would spend my summer and fall shooting targets in my backyard. I would set up different challenge shots such as through trees, to make the sport more fun. So, naturally when I had the first opportunity to hunt at age 16, I started with my bow and arrow. I have challenged myself since to try and continue to use archery equipment on almost all species I hunt.”
My toughest wrestling match occurred in 2010, the first time I had made the USA Freestyle Wrestling World Team. I just had graduated from college and never had been on a World Team. Every time I had competed and tried to make the World Team, one competitor had always beaten me in the finals of the tournament. To make the World Team, you have to beat all the other contestants. The last person you wrestle is the individual who has won the World Team slot the previous year. Only one competitor in each weight class is allowed to compete on the World Team. I knew the competitor I had to wrestle was the best in the world in my weight class. I also knew that he had a move he was really good at where he would grab his opponents around the head and neck and flip them over. I wasn’t sure how I would win, but I knew I wasn’t going to lose by letting my competitor put his best holds on me.
This particular match in 2010 was particularly tough, because not only did I have to wrestle an opponent I’d never beaten, the way the trials worked, the U.S. National Champion sat out and didn’t have to wrestle until the contestant who had beaten all the other wrestlers was the last man standing. I had to wrestle five other contestants before I had a shot at the World Champion. As the last man standing, I had to beat the World Champion in two out of three matches.
I only had about a 30-minute break in-between each one of the five matches that I had competed in to get to the finals. This guy hadn’t wrestled anyone yet, he was fresh and rested, and I had been wrestling all day long. The first match I lost. I thought this was pretty much par for the course, because I had lost to this fellow every time I ever had wrestled him. Before the second match, I told myself, “Brent, you’ve gotta get tough now. There are only two matches between you and making the World Team.” So in the second match, I really got dedicated, I stayed away from his best wrestling techniques and I won the second and the third matches.
I had wrestled a total of eight matches that day, and I won the position on the World Team. I finally had beaten a wrestler I never had beaten before, and I beat him twice. Other than being selected for the US Olympic Team, making the World Team in my opinion is one of the greatest feats that a wrestler can hope to obtain. At last I’d be able to represent my country on the USA Freestyle Wrestling World Team.
At that time, I was wrestling in the 56 kilo class - 145-1/2-pounds. Only one person in the entire United States who weighs 145-1/2-pounds or less can compete on the World Team. All the effort, energy, sweat and training I had put in finally had allowed me to obtain the most-coveted position in all of freestyle wrestling. I was a member of the 2010 USA World Team.
My first match on the World Team was against a wrestler who had won the bronze medal in the Olympic Games. I lost in a really close match. The World competition is set up so that if you lose, the person who’s won your match has to make it to the World finals for you to have another chance to compete. If the person who beats you makes the World finals, you also have an opportunity to compete in the finals. If the person you’ve lost to doesn’t make the World finals, the tournament is over for you. Since the guy who beat me didn’t make it to the World finals, I was done.
In 2011, I was on the World Team, and I was second. In 2012 at the Olympic Games, I was the alternate at my weight class. In 2013 and 2014, I was the number-one freestyle wrestler at my weight class in the United States and competed on the World Team. So, I've been on the World Team three times. In mid-June, 2015, I’ll compete for the World Team again. If I'm fortunate enough to win, this will be my fourth World Team appearance.
In April of 2016, I’ll go to another tournament that determines who gets to wrestle in the Olympics. Each year I have to wrestle for my slot on the World Team and for the Olympic Games. Currently I'm the World Team member at 143 pounds. To stay in shape and to get ready to compete in the World Team competition, I train twice a day, every day, for a total of 6 hours. I train at the University of Iowa, which is the college I attended. A club at the University of Iowa supports the wrestlers training for the World Team and the Olympics.