Inspiriting words from Brent Metcalf, 2x NCAA Champ
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Iowa's Brent Metcalf shoots in on North Carolina State's Darrion Caldwell during the 2009 NCAA finals in St. Louis. Photo by Larry Slater.
IOWA CITY "Brent Metcalf took the college wrestling world by storm during the 2007-08 season.
Metcalf's first season as an Iowa Hawkeye was a memorable one as he won his first NCAA title, led Iowa to the national team title and won the Hodge Trophy as the best college wrestler in the country.
He came back strong again last season, extending his winning streak to 69 matches before he was upset by North Carolina State's Darrion Caldwell in the 2009 NCAA finals. Metcalf helped the Hawkeyes edge Ohio State for the team title last March. Iowa won the title without crowning an individual champion.
Metcalf jumped right into freestyle competition after the NCAAs and placed second at the 2009 U.S. Nationals. He fell short of placing at the U.S. World Team Trials.
He just started his senior season as the nation's top-ranked wrestler at 149 pounds for the No. 1 Iowa Hawkeyes.
Metcalf took time out of his busy schedule to grant an interview with USA Wrestling's Craig Sesker following a workout last week at the wrestling room in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
You and your Iowa Hawkeye team are favored to win NCAAs this year. How eager were you for this season to start?
We have a great group of veterans in this room, and we have a great group of young guys who are in here fighting hard every day. It's great to see, that's for sure. The young guys are really pushing the older guys and keeping them honest. The way last year ended, we are not in here feeling like we are the national champions and feeling like we are on top of the world. It was disappointing how we finished. We feel like we are still fighting for something because we really didn't get what we wanted. There are a lot of guys in here who are really motivated.
You are a senior now, how different is that for you?
It shouldn't be any different. You live and train the same way. The philosophy is the same whether you are a freshman or a senior, so for me it's not any different. You can't go into panic mode or think this is all or nothing because it's my last shot as a senior. For me, I have a job to do and I do it at the highest level that I possibly can. The biggest thing for us again is we're a little bit ornery and a little bit unsatisfied because we didn't get what we wanted last season.
What did you learn from finishing second at the NCAA tournament last season?
My philosophy on wrestling is the guy who wants it the most is going to win. If I'm going to answer the question "why did I lose the match? "because I didn't want it the most. Do I feel like I didn't want it the most? No, probably not, but that's got to be my answer because that's my philosophy. What I have to take away from that is I have to make sure I'm going out there to take a championship away from my opponent. You don't step out there to just continue what you're doing. It's not another match. You can't be complacent. You've got to get yourself amped up and get your mind and body ready to win a championship every single time. Especially in those big matches. I need to go out there and win and take what I want. I have to have extremely high motivation to win every time I go out there. I need to have a high sense of need and want and desire. If that's what was lacking last year, then that's what has to change this year. I felt good going into that match. I just have to work toward that perfect preparation to get ready for a big match.
Did you take a break after the World Team Trials?
After the World Team Trials, I took a pretty good break and spent time with my family and my fiancée. I'm not a big break guy. It's harder to take a break when you're not happy about how you've wrestled. I was still thinking about those losses. When you don't perform the way you wanted to it's hard to take your mind away from wrestling because you're constantly thinking about it.
You lost close matches at the 2009 World Team Trials to Olympian Doug Schwab and eventual Trials runner-up Jared Frayer. Does that just add more fuel to the fire when you compete internationally?
I don't know if losing is motivation. I think the fact that I didn't perform the way I performed against those guys in this practice room is what motivates me the most. I wrestled both those guys a lot in the room. I felt like I took a step back when I lost to them at the Trials. You can't concede anything to them, even if they are your coaches. I just need to learn from that and keep improving.
What kind of advice has Iowa head coach Tom Brands given you entering this season?
Just keep doing what I'm doing "continue to have that same drive and motivation. Once you get to being the best, you still have to find what pushed you to get to that level. You have to go back to your younger days and think about what you did when you were scrapping and trying to prove yourself.
What is it like being around twins Tom and Terry Brands on a daily basis?
It's an honor, and a dream come true. It's awesome. These guys were my idols when I was growing up. It's more than just wrestling when you talk about Tom and Terry Brands. They care about you personally and they take the time to get involved with your life and what you're doing off the mat. They are special people who live the right way. I've become a better person by being around them. They teach you how to lead a championship lifestyle "from the way you treat your girlfriend, to the way you treat your neighbor, to the way you treat your teammates, to the way you take care of yourself. They live by very high standards on and off the mat.
How excited are you about competing internationally in freestyle wrestling once you are done with your college career?
My goal is to win multiple World and Olympic championships. I have very high standards for what I want to do internationally. Last year, there was maybe too much focus on freestyle where I maybe looked past the NCAA Championships to the World Championships. Right now, the focus is on this season and Omaha 2010 for the NCAA Championships. I want to win the NCAA title and then worry about everything that comes after that.
Jake Herbert came right out of Northwestern earlier this year and won a silver medal in his first trip to the World Championships. Did you watch any of his matches at the World Championships in September?
It doesn't surprise me, what Jake Herbert did at the Worlds. He's a competitor. He wrestles offensively and he doesn't hold back out there. He goes to his offense and he works really hard out there to win. His style is similar to mine in that respect. I hope he's not happy with the silver and I know that he isn't. Hopefully, he will continue to work hard and he will get where he needs to be. It doesn't matter where you come from as long as you have that drive and focus to be the best. Like I said, I want to be the best wrestler in the World. I know I have to keep working hard to get there.
Brent Metcalf has been a national champion. He has been a national runner-up. He has been an All-American " twice. He has been a Big Ten champion " twice. He has been the Outstanding Wrestler at the Big Ten championships " twice. He has been the Outstanding Wrestler of the NCAA championships. He has been the Dan Hodge Trophy winner. He has a 69-match winning streak.
Yet, he is not satisfied.
Accolades such as that could make anybody's head swell. But Metcalf is not the pompous type. While the 23-year-old exudes cool confidence, he has remained grounded. He doesn't bask in the glory of his victories; instead, he chooses to find motivation in his few losses.
The Hawkeye senior has been wrestling since he was 8. From the moment he first stepped onto the mat, he has been an opponent to be feared.
He began in the novice division of youth wrestling, but that didn't last long. In just one weekend, he advanced to the regular division, a transition that took other successful wrestlers months. After that, he won the youth state championships in his home state of Michigan as well as tournaments across the country.
His first national victory came at age 11 at the USA Championships in Waterloo, and his parents, Tom and Lynn Metcalf, see that win as a turning point.
"That was probably the first inkling we had that he could do this on a national stage," Tom Metcalf said. "But I certainly never thought he was going to be an Olympic athlete."
Click on the link to read the rest of the story, view the pics and the video
Portion of a sports columnist from the Creston (Iowa) News-Advertiser drawing some links between Caldwell-Metcalf and Owings-Gable...
Creston/O-M coach Darrell Frain has often told me tournaments are won on the back side of the brackets, and Iowa proved that with its consolation performance on the Saturday morning of this year's NCAA meet in St. Louis. Guys like Ryan Morningstar, Dan Erekson and Phil Keddy were the real heroes for the Hawks, rebounding from disappointing losses to gain important team points in the consolations.
Of course, the most noteworthy match was the unexpected loss by unbeaten junior Brent Metcalf at 149 pounds, and the team point deduction he got for shoving North Carolina State's Darrion Caldwell on the edge of the mat as time expired.
But here's the deal. Metcalf only knows one thing, to wrestle until the final whistle. Caldwell started doing back clips, inbounds, before time expired. Some wrestlers would have shoved that showboat right off the stage in those circumstances. What's with no unsportsmanlike call against Caldwell?
And here's the curious part. In a tiring match against a wrestler (Metcalf) known for his third-period domination, Caldwell took 20 seconds for injury time in the final period because of back spasms. Then, he is able to do back flips with five seconds left?
That was not the sportsmanship that Larry Owings displayed when he shocked the world by beating Dan Gable in Gable's final collegiate match in the 1970 NCAA finals. Gable had won 181 consecutive matches in high school and college until Owings, a Washington sophomore, surprised him in a 13-11 decision. He reached down and helped up a crestfallen Gable afterward.
That match reminded me of Metcalf's loss, in that he didn't wrestle his normal match that day, for whatever reason. Heavy-footed, lethargic, compared to the usual whirlwind of activity.
If Metcalf uses it as motivation like Gable did, going unscored upon in the 1972 Olympics, then opponents better look out next season! You'll see a man on a mission.
By J.R. Ogden
Gazette sports editor
The college wrestling season ended last weekend in St. Louis with the University of Iowa earning its second NCAA championship in Tom Brands' three years as head coach.
But the news didn't stop at the Scottrade Center.
Last week, the University of Northern Iowa gave Coach Brad Penrith a three-year contract extension, and the University of Iowa's Brent Metcalf apologized for his late push of North Carolina State national champion Darrion Caldwell.
My question on both stories is, why?
Brad Penrith is a great person who cares deeply about his wrestlers and his program. The Panthers' 22nd-place finish hurts him as much as anyone. He wants the program to be among the best in the country, a consistent top-10 team that flirts with the top five from time to time.
But isn't nine years enough time to get that turned around?
Penrith's teams have finished 22nd, 20th, 34th and 28th in the past four NCAA tournaments. Moza Fay was the Panthers' lone All-American those years.
He placed twice, including sixth this season.
Fay is one of those wrestlers Penrith can point to with pride. Penrith and his staff molded Fay, not a highly recruited athlete out of Anamosa, into one of the best 165-pounders in the country.
But what about the other nine wrestlers in the lineup?
Programs like UNI " and Wisconsin, Missouri, Edinboro " have to find good wrestlers and make them better.
Places like Iowa, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Minnesota will get better wrestlers and make them even better. Penrith's job is tougher.
But it can be done. Chuck Patten did it from 1965 through 1982. Don Briggs did it in his early years and Mark Manning had the program pointed in the right direction " on the mat, at least " before he bolted for Nebraska.
Penrith has mentioned financial support " i.e., facilities " has hurt UNI. He's right. The wrestling room in the West Gymnasium on the UNI campus is a joke.
But Minnesota Coach J Robinson said a few weeks ago facilities are meaningless. Sure, it can help lure a kid onto your campus, but it's what you do with that kid once he's in your program that really matters. You could coach in a closet if you were good at developing talent.
Maybe Penrith will get the support he needs " and it is time alumni step up for the program if not the man " and turn the Panthers around.
UNI deserves a top-flight wrestling program. Wrestling is important in the Cedar Falls-Waterloo area. Let's hope wrestling remains important to UNI and this isn't a sign it could one day find itself on the chopping block.
l l l
Metcalf's apology also is confusing.
Wrestlers are taught, especially wrestlers like Metcalf, to wrestle until the final buzzer. Never stop, never give up.
That's all Metcalf was doing. Watch the film. He's chasing Caldwell as the final seconds tick away and, in the middle of Caldwell's celebration, runs into his opponent and gives him a shove.
Did Metcalf need to give Caldwell that little shove? No. Did Caldwell need to run and start into his cartwheel with time still on the clock? No.
Both were wrong and, now, both have apologized.
Caldwell took blame for the incident after the match and said he didn't think Metcalf was trying to hurt him.
Metcalf apologized because he felt the sting of criticism and, maybe, because he was asked. I'm sure he did it without hesitation. Metcalf is a good person who loves and respects the sport of wrestling too much to be the brute some have labeled him.
I hope this apology puts an end to this saga. I also hope Metcalf never has to apologize for who he is, on and off the mat.
n Contact the writer: (319) 368-8696 or [email protected]
By John Huckaby
This year's NCAA championships will be remembered for three things " North Carolina State's Darrion Caldwell's upset win over Iowa's Brent Metcalf at 149 pounds, Metcalf's unsportsmanlike push of Caldwell after losing and the courage and skill of Arizona State's Anthony Robles, a fourth-place finisher. Let's look at each.
Caldwell has wrestled Metcalf three times " a dual meet early in the 2007- 2008 season, this season's All-Star meet (doesn't count in NCAA records), and the finals on Saturday night. He's beaten him twice.
The first time, Caldwell, from New Jersey, decked Metcalf. Then in the All-Star meet, Metcalf easily won a 19-3 technical fall. It was Caldwell 11-6 in the finals Saturday.
Caldwell took it to Metcalf " who had won 69 straight bouts including last season's championship final " early and managed to tire out the Hawkeye to a certain extent with a tough ride in the first period, eventually building a riding time point for the match. Metcalf isn't a strong technical wrestler on his feet and that's where Caldwell made his hay. Here's hoping we see a couple more of these matchups down the line.
Now to the push, or as Metcalf likes to put it " just wrestling the whole seven minutes. There seems to be some dispute as to whether Caldwell started his celebration early. He was released by Metcalf with five seconds left on the clock (according to TV replays) and he started to circle Metcalf as winning wrestlers have done for decades when they have a lead and only seconds on the clock.
As time ran out, (according to TV replays), he started his flip in celebration. Metcalf is then seen rushing toward Caldwell and pushing him as he flipped. Caldwell appeared to have landed on his back without injury.
An unsportsmanlike call was made by the official. A team point was deducted from the Iowa total.
"There's five seconds left on the clock and he turns his back and runs from me," Metcalf said to Andy Hamilton of the Iowa City Press Citizen. "I'm going to continue to wrestle. If I was trying to brutally push him, I probably would've pushed him right off the platform. It was more me being aggressive. There was time left on the clock in my mind."
There are some who blame Caldwell for celebrating early. Come on, there have been celebrations of this type for decades in the tournament. I've been to more than 30 NCAA tournaments and celebrations before the clock expires are pretty much routine. Many don't involve flips or other demonstrations but they are celebrations just the same. But most don't end up with the loser pushing the winner.
I'm not so concerned whether or not time was out when Caldwell started his demonstration. I'm concerned with what could have happened. Caldwell landed on the mat and he's a remarkable athlete, as is Metcalf, and he was not injured. But a few feet from where Caldwell hit is unprotected wood and an edge to the raised platform. Had he hit on the wood or edge we might have had a more ugly scene. There's no doubt in my mind that Metcalf was frustrated at losing and not wrestling the full seven minutes when he started the push.
It's good there was no serious injuries.
Now to Robles. It's not often that you sit in the stands and watch a wrestler on crutches head for the mat with the intention of competing. But Robles is not your average wrestler.
Robles, Arizona State's 125-pounder, has been missing a leg since birth but that doesn't stop him. Seeded 12th, Robles disposed of Ohio State's Nicco Triggas, No. 5 seed Charlie Falck of Iowa, and No. 4 seed Brandon Precin of Northwestern before losing to top-seeded Paul Donahoe of Edinboro in the semis.
Robles finished fourth after losing to Precin in a rematch.
Efforts like that of Robles is what makes wrestling different from many other sports. Robles can take pride in his efforts on the mat and he is an inspiration to many.
In last week's column, we said we'd supply you with a few chuckles by predicting the winners in Saint Louis. We're afraid those chuckles turned to laughter as we managed only three winners.
We got Jake Herbert of Northwestern at 184, Steve Luke of Michigan at 174 and Jordan Burroughs of Nebraska at 157 as correct picks.
The three-day event drew 97,111, a record for attendance. ... Perhaps spelling isn't the forte of the folks at the Scot-trade Center. On the scoreboard, a Boise State wrestler was identified as being from Bosie State. Herbert was called Hebert in another instance. ... Next year's eight-mat circus will move a bit west as Omaha will host the tournament Marach 18-20. ... Two of three Pennsylvania high schoolers who made the finals won. They were Herbert (North Allegheny) and Edinboro's Jarrod King (Connellsville). Cumberland Valley's Ryan Williams of Old Dominion at 141 was the other Pa. product. Herbert and King won state titles in high school. The best finish for Williams was seventh. ... Jake Deitchler, the Minnesota high schooler who made the Olympic Greco- Roman team last summer, will drop his plans for year-round Olympic training. He'll attend Minnesota, his original choice before making the Olympic team.
PARK RIDGE, IL - Iowa wrestler Brent Metcalf and Northwestern lacrosse standout Hannah Nielsen were respectively named the Jesse Owens Male and Suzy Favor Female Athletes of the Year, the Big Ten Conference announced on Thursday. The Big Ten Athletes of the Year are selected by a panel of conference media members from nominations submitted by each institution.
Metcalf led the Iowa wrestling program to its 21st overall NCAA Championship in 2008, scoring 23 team points to be named the event's Outstanding Wrestler. The sophomore earned the individual national title at 149 pounds by defeating Bubba Jenkins of Penn State, 14-8, in the finals. At the conclusion of the season, Metcalf took home the Dan Hodge Trophy, given each year to the nation's best wrestler, and was also named the NCAA Wrestler of the Year by RevWrestling.com. The Davison, MI, native was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and the Outstanding Wrestler of the Big Ten Championships, becoming just the fourth grappler in school history to earn both awards in the same season. In 2008, his first year with the Hawkeyes, Metcalf finished with a 35-1 record, ending the season on a 35-match winning streak, posting a 21-1 dual record and a perfect 8-0 mark in Big Ten competition. He was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week on Jan. 16 and Jan. 23, becoming first wrestler in conference history to earn the honor in consecutive weeks. Metcalf also picked up weekly accolades from TheMat.com on Jan. 16 and Mar. 12. An academic all-Big Ten honoree and NWCA all-academic team member, Metcalf was named Division I Outstanding Wrestler at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals in January. He is the fourth male Hawkeye to be named Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year and the first since Chuck Long in 1986. He is the third Iowa wrestler to receive the top conference distinction.
"It is a great honor for me to be recognized as the Jesse Owens Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year, "said Metcalf. "Not only is it good for me, it's good for the entire Iowa wrestling program. It shows that we are headed in the right direction as a program."
"This award is another outstanding accomplishment for Brent Metcalf and the Hawkeye wrestling program, "said University of Iowa Head Wrestling Coach Tom Brands. "The Big Ten recognized his achievements from the past season, and we look forward to exceeding expectations again this year."
A junior on the 2008 NCAA Champion Northwestern lacrosse team, Nielsen is already one of the most decorated players in program history. The Adelaide, Australia, native captured the 2008 Tewaaraton Trophy, given to the nation's best collegiate lacrosse player. She also earned the 2008 Honda Lacrosse Sports Award and earned Player of the Year accolades from Inside Lacrosse, the American Lacrosse Conference, Women's Lacrosse and WomensLax.com. The midfielder was an integral part of NU's fourth-straight national championship in 2008, leading her squad in scoring with 114 points (51 goals, 63 assists), to become the first Wildcat to record back-to-back 100-point seasons. Since arriving in Evanston, Nielsen has helped the Wildcats to three of the team's four consecutive NCAA Championships on the strength of a 62-3 combined record during her three seasons on the field. Nielsen becomes the third female Wildcat to take home the Suzy Favor award and the first since 1987 when Jennifer Averill, a two-sport athlete in field hockey and lacrosse, was honored. Nielsen and Averill stand as the only two lacrosse players to earn the top Big Ten accolade.
The Big Ten Conference has recognized a Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year since 1982 when Indiana's Jim Spivey earned the inaugural award. The following year, a women's award was created. In 1991-92, as part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of women's athletics in the conference, the women's award was renamed in honor of former Wisconsin track standout and three-time recipient Suzy Favor.
A complete list of this year's Big Ten Conference Jesse Owens and Suzy Favor Athletes of the Year nominees and all-time winners follows.
2008 BIG TEN ATHLETE OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
School - Male Nominee (sport)
Illinois - J Leman (football)
Indiana - Ben Hesen (swimming)
Iowa - Brent Metcalf (wrestling)
Michigan - Kevin Porter (ice hockey)
Michigan State - Jeff Lerg (ice hockey)
Minnesota - Jayson Ness (wrestling)
Northwestern - Dustin Fox (wrestling)
Ohio State - Andras Horanyi (fencing)
Penn State - Casey Sandy (gymnastics)
Purdue - Dustin Keller (football)
Wisconsin - Travis Beckum (football)
School - Female Nominee (sport)
Illinois - Angela Bizzarri (cross country/track)
Indiana - Haley Exner (field hockey)
Iowa - Diane Nukuri (cross country/track)
Michigan - Tiffany Ofili (track)
Michigan State - Sara Brown (golf)
Minnesota - Heather Dorniden (track)
Northwestern - Hannah Nielsen (lacrosse)
Ohio State - Teresa Meyer (pistol)
Penn State - Shana Cox (track)
Purdue - Maria Hernandez (golf)
Wisconsin - Jolene Anderson (basketball)
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS
1982 - Jim Spivey, Indiana, track and field/cross country
1983 - Ed Banach, Iowa, wrestling
1984 - Sunder Nix, Indiana, track and field
1985 - Barry Davis, Iowa, wrestling
1986 - Chuck Long, Iowa, football
1987 - Steve Alford, Indiana, basketball
1988 - Jim Abbott, Michigan, baseball
1989 - Glen Rice, Michigan, basketball
1990 - Anthony Thompson, Indiana, football
1991 - Mike Barrowman, Michigan, swimming
1992 - Desmond Howard, Michigan, football
1993 - John Roethlisberger, Minnesota, gymnastics
1994 - Glenn Robinson, Purdue, basketball
1995 - Tom Dolan, Michigan, swimming
1996 - Eddie George, Ohio State, football
1997 - Blaine Wilson, Ohio State, gymnastics
1998 - Charles Woodson, Michigan, football
1999 - Luke Donald, Northwestern, golf
2000 - Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, football
2001 - Ryan Miller, Michigan State, ice hockey
2002 - Jordan Leopold, Minnesota, ice hockey
2003 - Amer Delic, Illinois, tennis (co)
2003 - Matt Lackey, Illinois, wrestling (co)
2004 - Damion Hahn, Minnesota, wrestling
2005 - Luis Vargas, Penn State, gymnastics
2006 - Peter Vanderkaay, Michigan, swimming
2007 - Cole Konrad, Minnesota, wrestling
2008 - Brent Metcalf, Iowa, wrestling
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS
1983 - Judi Brown, Michigan State, track and field
1984 - Lisa Ishikawa, Northwestern, softball
1985 - Cathy Branta, Wisconsin, cross country/track
1986 - Stephanie Herbst, Wisconsin, cross country/track
1987 - Jennifer Averill, Northwestern, field hockey/lacrosse
1988 - Suzy Favor, Wisconsin, track and field/cross country
1989 - Suzy Favor, Wisconsin, track and field/cross country
1990 - Suzy Favor, Wisconsin, track and field/cross country
1991 - Julie Farrell-Ovenhouse, Michigan State, diving (co)
1991 - Joy Holmes, Purdue, basketball (co)
1992 - MaChelle Joseph, Purdue, basketball
1993 - Lara Hooiveld, Michigan, swimming
1994 - Kristy Gleason, Iowa, field hockey
1995 - Laura Davis, Ohio State, volleyball
1996 - Olga Kalinovskaya, Penn State, fencing
1997 - Kathy Butler, Wisconsin, track and field (co)
1997 - Gretchen Hegener, Minnesota, swimming (co)
1998 - Sara Griffin, Michigan, softball
1999 - Stephanie White-McCarty, Purdue, basketball
2000 - Lauren Cacciamani, Penn State, volleyball
2001 - Katie Douglas, Purdue, basketball
2002 - Christie Welsh, Penn State, soccer
2003 - Perdita Felicien, Illinois, track and field
2004 - Kelly Mazzante, Penn State, basketball
2005 - Jennie Ritter, Michigan, softball
2006 - Tiffany Weimer, Penn State, soccer
2007 - Jessica Davenport, Ohio State, basketball
2008 - Hannah Nielsen, Northwestern, lacrosse