Yesterday, in Los Angeles the United States wrestling team was faced with the tough task of knocking off the four-time defending World Cup champions of Iran. For USA it was their first gold medal match appearance in 12 years, with the last time they made it also being the last time American had won the event in 2003. The American’s brought their A squad with all eight 2014 World Team members making the trip to compete, though injuries would force two starters to miss the gold medal match. .
United States got off to a shaky start against a talented Cuba squad, but stormed back to win six matches in a row after dropping their opening two. They then faced a tough Russian squad, going 4-4 in the bouts winning on classification points which was aided by the fact that Brent Metcalf (65 kg) , Jordan Burroughs (74 kg) , and Tervel Dlagnev (125 kg) all picked up technical falls in their wins. Tony Ramos (57 kg) also had a come from behind victory in that match to keep USA’s shot at a gold medal on home soil alive. USA then swept the Mongolia team 8-0 to win their pool and clinch the silver medal.
Metcalf was one of the brightest spots on the weekend, and not for just Iowa fans. The three-time World Team member went 4-0 on the weekend, with his first big win being a technical fall against a Russian, followed by an 8-2 win over two-time World medalist Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia). Metcalf capped off his terrific weekend with a 3-1 win over Iran’s Masmoud Esmailpour, who is also a two-time World medalist. Though Metcalf is ranked #8 in the World at 65 kg, he is expected to move up in the next set of rankings after handing #6 Ganzorig a loss.
“I think if I would’ve added one or two more (points) on there, you start to hush that crowd up a bit. Which is not a home crowd.” Metcalf said, when asked about putting USA on the board down 0-2. “I’ve got to score multiple takedowns. I’m taking about two, three, four, five and a turn on top, that sort of thing when you really want to be the best in the world.”
USA started the gold medal match on a controversial match as Iran’s #8 ranked Hassan Rahimi defeated Ramos 5-5 on criteria. Late in the match it appeared that Ramos had a takedown and two exposure points, but was only awarded a couple of the points. Despite a challenge from the American bench, Ramos didn’t receive his points from the scoring sequence and in the end Iran was able to take the first match.
“I don’t know what happened. They said we went out of bounds, but I thought I had two backs. But the thing is even if it was 6-5 or 5-5, it’s still a takedown (to win the) match, and I have to find a way to get to the legs or score off one of his attacks.” Ramos said after his close loss.
USA’s Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott (61 kg) got off to a great start in his match with a throw to go up big 4-0 over his opponent. In the second period the #2 ranked Behnam Ehsanpoor put together a strong come from behind victory to win 9-7 which put USA in a big 0-2 hole.
Metcalf along with Olympic champion Jordan Burrough’s (74 kg) each scored wins for USA, with Burrough’s earning his 102nd career win in typical dominating Burroughs fashion with a 10-0 technical fall. Junior gold medalist Hassan Yazdani defeated American Nick Marable at 70 kg making it 3-2 heading into the remaining three weights.
The American team then had to turn to Clayton Foster (86 kg) with starter Ed Ruth sustaining an injury during pool action. Foster looked to be in control as he opened his match with an early takedown, but then Meisam Mostafa Joukar rattled off 10 straight points to earn his squad a technical fall and 4-2 advantage.
That placed an enormous amount of pressure on Olympic champion Jake Varner to secure a win at 97 kg to give USA a shot at winning the dual on classification points if they could win out. Trailing 3-1 late in his match, Varner was provide late match dramatics by scoring a takedown in the closing seconds to make the score 3-3. USA got the win at 97 kg on criteria that Varner was the last to score.
“I don’t feel like I wrestled to my best potential, but I left it all out there. I got taken down and that happens, but I know how to score and I went out there and scored.” Varner said.
We then learned that Tervel Dlagnev was also dealing with an injury so it was up to backup Zach Rey to try and get the win at 125 kg to earn the American squad a gold medal. Rey picked up the match’s first point on a shot clock violation by Komeil Ghasemi. Rey was then penalized for the same reason in the second, which meant Ghasemi effectively had the lead with scoring the match’s last point. Rey tried to mount a comeback, but was taken down on his desperation shot and lost 3-1.
CHAMPIONSHIP DUAL: IRAN 5, USA 3
57 kg/125 lbs. – Hassan Rahimi (Iran) dec. Tony Ramos (USA), 5-5
61 kg/134 lbs. – Behnam Ehsanpoor (Iran) dec. Coleman Scott (USA), 9-7
65 kg/143 lbs. – Brent Metcalf (USA) dec. Masmoud Esmailpour (Iran), 3-1
70 kg/154 lbs. – Hassan Yazdani (Iran) dec. Nick Marable (USA), 3-1
74 kg/163 lbs. – Jordan Burroughs (USA) won by tech. fall over Morteza Rezaei Ghaleh (Iran), 10-0
86 kg/189 lbs. – Meisam Mostafa Joukar (Iran) won by tech. fall over Clayton Foster (USA), 12-2
97 kg/213 lbs. – Jake Varner (USA) dec. Mohammad Hossei Mohammadian (Iran), 3-3
125 kg/275 lbs. – Komeil Ghasemi (Iran) dec. Zach Rey (USA), 3-1
Brent Metcalf Interview
Tony Ramos Interview
Jake Varner Interview