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.”
While I was in college, I competed against and with the senior level wrestlers, which is the professional level of freestyle wrestling. When I graduated from college in 2010, this was the first year that I’d made the World Team. Making the World Team was a huge deal for me, because it was the highest ranking for a wrestler in the United States. I was the number-one guy in this country in my weight class, and I would be representing my country at the World Championships. As I mentioned earlier, to get to that world ranking, I had to defeat a wrestler that I never had defeated previously.
Since 2010, I've been on the World Team three times, and as I mentioned, I’ll be competing again for a spot on the US World Team in mid-June. I won the U.S. nationals this year. So in the upcoming tournament, the only opponent I’ll have to wrestle will be the individual in my weight class who’s won all his matches. I won’t have to wrestle seven matches in one day like I did when I won my first World Team spot. I can watch the matches and wait on the winner.
I'm often asked, “Brent what are you doing different from all the other people you wrestle to be able to compete at this high level over such a long time?” I think it’s the way I train, and the amount of time and work I put into my training. Also, it’s my attitude as I go into each match. I'm not satisfied just to squeak by and win. I want to completely dominate my opponent through every round of the match.
I probably wasn’t born the most athletic and agile wrestler in the world, but I think my drive to win and my never-say-die attitude have helped catapult me to the top of my weight class. I don’t mind the work and conditioning that’s required to perform at the highest level. I believe that wrestling is 90-percent mental and 10-percent skill. That’s why I love the sport of wrestling so much. You can get out of the sport as much as you put into it. To me, success in wrestling is really simple. The contestant who wants to win the most will win. Wrestling allows a competitor to build a knowledge base that over the years can create success. By that I mean, if a contestant has a move that he can catch and pin me with, I’ll remember that move. He won’t catch me and pin me with that move the next time I wrestle him - you can bet on it. I was really fortunate that I started wrestling at a young age and had great coaches. This allowed me to build a huge database of how to win. If a person is willing to sacrifice enough time and is passionate to become the best in the world in the sport of wrestling, I really believe this is an obtainable goal.
To win in freestyle wrestling, you have to score more points than your opponent. If you take your opponent from the standing position down to the mat, you get two points for that takedown. If I can expose his back to the mat, I get two more points. If you push an opponent out of bounds, you score a point. If you take your opponent from the standing position, pick him up and throw him down, so that his back lands on the mat, you get extra points for making a big move like that. If one wrestler is beating his opponent by 10 points or more, the match is over. We wrestle for two, 3-minute periods, and you get a 30-second break in between those two periods.
Some people have asked me how long I think I can compete at this high level. I feel certain I can compete for the next 2 years, barring injury. I plan to compete as long as I can. At some point, I want to become a coach. But right now, I'm focusing on training to become the World and the Olympic champion in my weight class. The Olympic trials are in April, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa where I live only two blocks away from where the Olympic trials will be held. The ultimate prize in the world of wrestling is to become an Olympic champion. In 2015, I hope to compete in the World Championships held in Las Vegas.
I'm totally obsessed with wrestling and hunting. When my wrestling career is over, I’d love to become a professional hunter. But right now, I have to keep my hunting enthusiasm in check and focus on my passion for wrestling. When I'm hunting, I want to find the biggest buck on the property; I want to take the smartest turkey in the woods; and I want to get in close enough to take the biggest bull elk in the country with my bow.
To keep up with Brent Metcalf and his quest for a World Championship and an Olympic gold medal, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bhmetcalf and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/bhmetcalf, where he shares his hunting adventures and wrestling exploits.