To some, it may have seemed Brent Metcalf got back on track last month when he beat a talented Russian at the Beat the Streets Gala in Times Square.
That three-period victory against 2008 Junior World champion came in the wake of Metcalf’s upset loss to Teyon Ware in April — a defeat that derailed the former Iowa star’s bid for his first U.S. Open freestyle title.
To Metcalf, though, it never seemed as if he had fallen off course when he lost to a fellow American for the first time in nearly a year.
“The thing is, I never felt off track,” he said. “I never felt like I was missing a step or my timing (was off). Nothing really felt wrong. It’s one of those things, the way the rules are and the way the style is, if you don’t keep your cool and you don’t keep your style the whole time, things are going to happen, guys are going to score points on you, and you’ve got to be able to get it all back in range.”
Ware went on to win the 145.5-pound title at the U.S. Open, giving him an automatic ticket to the best-of-three final series at this weekend’s World Team Trials in Oklahoma City. Metcalf, like the rest of his teammates in the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, must wrestle through the challenge tournament to get a shot at qualifying for September’s World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
Those associated with the Iowa club have some things to prove this weekend.
For 32-year-old Mike Zadick, that means showing he still has another run left. The four-time World and Olympic Team member placed fourth at the U.S. Open at 132 pounds, his lowest finish at the tournament since 2006 when he came back later that fall to take the silver medal at the World Championships.
“I’m in this sport to win World and Olympic titles,” Zadick said. “Obviously, where I’m at right now is not where I want to be as far as my last result. You want to right the wrong and you want to continue to focus on the most important task at hand for this year, and that’s the World Championships.”
For tournament rookies Daniel Dennis and Ryan Morningstar, this weekend is about proving they’re ready to compete now.
Dennis didn’t place at the U.S. Open, but he qualified for the World Team Trials by winning the Northern Plains Regional tournament at 121 pounds.
Morningstar reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open at 163 before dropping a three-period decision to Nick Marable and eventually placed fourth.
“That wasn’t what I was expecting to do there,” he said. “I was going in thinking I was going to win it and I didn’t have the tournament I wanted to have. I’ve got a chance to go out and show what I’m capable of, because I know a lot of people don’t believe I can win the thing. I know my coaches do and I know that I know I can win it. I’ve just got to go out and do it.”
Metcalf already has verified his ability to win the tournament. He worked his way through the challenge tournament last year and defeated Jared Frayer in a nailbiting best-of-three final series.
There’s more at stake this time around. The Olympic Trials are coming to Carver-Hawkeye Arena next April, and the World Championships are the first event in which a wrestler can earn an Olympic qualifying spot for his respective country. Metcalf would like to take care of those matters for himself.
“Even more than that, it’s an opportunity to go and win a World medal — a World gold medal,” he said. “You’re only going to get so many of them. You give yourself 10 years, you’ve only got 10 shots. For me, I don’t even worry about the Olympic year right now. I’ve got a World Championships (ahead), this is an opportunity right now to go and compete at the World Championships and win a medal. I failed to do that last year, and I want to give myself that opportunity again.”