Metcalf in action against Frank Molinaro in the Olympic Trial Quarterfinals. (Photo/Steve Krah, Special to MichiganGrappler.com)
By STEVE KRAH
IOWA CITY, Iowa — With a criteria decision and a two-point loss, Brent Metcalf saw his chances of wrestling in Rio go away.
Metcalf, 29, came out on the short end in two close challenge tournament matches Saturday, April 10, in the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials.
The Davison, Mich., native and Iowa City resident was beaten by Frank Molinaro of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club (3-3 with Molinaro having more multi-point moves) and Jayson Ness of the Minnesota Storm (9-7) at 65 kg (143 pounds).
Before Metcalf, who has been member of Team USA since 2010, left Carver-Hawkeye Arena at the University of Iowa, he addressed his Trials performance, pressure and his wrestling future.
If the New York Athletic Club member had to do it over again, what would it have been?
“Just off the cuff, tactics,” Metcalf said. “Ultimately, I’m not even talking about the second match because that one doesn’t mean a whole lot as far as what we’re after here. In the Molinaro match, you’re up, and my head is thinking there’s forty to go, stay smart with your hands and your feet and my gut is saying go get another takedown, score again, stay on his head and open me up, he got underneath my arms, the rest is history.
“Tactics from a smart and stingy way, I have enough experience to know that sometimes you swallow that pride or you swallow that want to really stick the dagger in a guy for a win. Kudos to him for wrestling a better tactical match and scoring where it mattered.”
Metcalf, who was seeded No. 1 in the bracket in 2016 and had been a runner-up at the 2012 Olympic Trials, was a long time in addressing the media and described his emotions after the disappointing day.
But he also kept it positive.
“Deflated for sure, the toughest thing for me is probably letting down our crowd, family supporters, really the country,” Metcalf said. “I do believe I am the best guy, not today, but I do believe I am and we’ll see what shakes out with the finals here.
“Obviously, a lot of things went haywire in that weight class, and it just goes to show that anything can happen and that’s why you have to win match number one, match number two and put yourself in position for contention, because you don’t know what’s going to happen on the other side of the bracket, you don’t know what young guys are going to finally peak, I guess is the right word, or show up. So, it’s frustrating for me, but, today I was not the best guy.”
In order to make it to the Olympics, wrestlers had to go 5-0. But that didn’t happen for former Virginia Tech wrestler Metcalf. There was no margin for error.
“Well, that’s the sport of wrestling, it’s all or nothing and the highest caliber of guys or maybe the looniest guys that you’ll talk to in the sport of wrestling are really about winning and all else doesn’t matter,” Metcalf said. “So, I would say growing up in the sport, I was raised that way, does it make it tougher, how does that affect today, not a whole lot.
“Outside of if this was the Olympic Games and you lose, then maybe you have a chance to come back for a medal sort of thing, whereas now you’re out of contention. I don’t know if there’s any added, I think it’s just part of the sport of wrestling.”
What about the former world champion feeling pressure?
“No, I felt very free, I felt very good,” Metcalf said. “I am at great peace with myself, and my God and my family and where I’m at, so, I don’t think there was more tension. I think if anything, and I continue to remind myself about this and I did and that’s where you have to evaluate is that this is for the Olympic spot.
“So, showing up and wrestling isn’t enough, I think I said that before and I’ll continue to say it for advice for anyone who is ever in my situation, going through it twice now, showing up is not enough. I don’t feel like I showed up today, I felt motivated and I felt good, you just, you have to score points, you have to score points and again I’m just talking about match number one.”
With the Olympics and a Team USA spot not secured Saturday, Metcalf was not immediately sure where he goes from here.
“We’ll see, I think ideally you have the things you want and you can feel good about it, but certainly there is still a lot of fight in me, my body is strong, I tell people I feel like a 24-year old, I really do,” Metcalf said. “There are no injuries or banged up, so, I have to figure out why the guy who wrestled today wasn’t really the guy who I am.
“If I can change that and get back to smart, strong, stingy, you score, they shoot, you score, I shoot, I score, Gable philosophy, just tighten it up, go win, then I can certainly have what I want. Or maybe it’s just not in the cards and that’s something I will have to come to face with.”