By Roger Moore
Special to the Register
STILLWATER, Okla. — Rules for freestyle wrestling changed in early June. One of them caught Brent Metcalf’s attention: two 3-minute periods with an if-necessary sudden death overtime.
At the 2013 United States World Team Trials on Saturday, the former Iowa Hawkeye showed why the changes suit him just fine —at least in the Challenge Tournament.
Rules didn’t matter much in the best-of-three championship series, as Metcalf routed former Michigan two-time NCAA champion Kellen Russell in two straight dominating bouts at 66 kilograms (145.5 pounds). The 26-year old who won two NCAA titles for the Hawkeyes outscored Russell 15-1 over two matches and clinched his first World Team spot since 2010.
“I appreciate this because I have fallen short the last two years,” said Metcalf, who lost in the 2012 Olympic Trials finals in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and came up short in 2011. “So winning this is big. Maybe I’m not as elated because I have a sour taste in my mouth from Moscow and from the last two years, but I am excited about it because this is a big event. Winning this and being a part of the world team is big. I’m proud to represent the United States and to continue to work toward bringing back some medals.”
Earlier in the day, the new format played right into Metcalf’s hands.
Against hometown favorite Jordan Oliver, a front headlock brought the Hawkeye back from a 3-0 deficit early in the second period. A takedown with 1:46 remaining made it 5-3. One final push out against a tired Oliver fashioned the final score at 6-3.
“(Oliver) did a good job of creating space in the first period, which is what he wants,” said Metcalf, who beat Oliver in the Challenge Tournament at the 2012 Trials. “I did a great job of getting a hold of him in the second period, which is what I want.
“I think the (new) rules help me. A two-minute period is more like the last two minutes of a match, kind of that weird feeling where you’re in limbo. With six minutes, you let it fly.”
In the semifinals against Drew Headlee, Metcalf used a similar script, turning a 4-3 match into a 10-3 technical fall.
Obe Blanc, Keith Gavin, and Tervel Dlagnev also earned spots on the U.S. freestyle squad on Saturday night.
Ex-Hawkeye Phil Keddy and former Iowa State wrestler Jon Reader were part of the 84-kilogram (185-pound) bracket in freestyle. Keddy beat Reader in the Challenge semifinals, but lost to Clayton Foster in the finals. Foster, in turn, lost to Gavin in the evening best-of-three series.
Tamika Jones, who competed for first-year program Waldorf College in 2012-13, went 0-2 in women’s freestyle at 48 kg (105.5 pounds).