This week the wrestling world will turn their eyes to Las Vegas with the 2015 UWW Senior World Wrestling Championships getting underway and Iowa was lucky enough to place two wrestlers on the World team, and both of them are returning starters from the 2014 team.
What went down last year:
Tony Ramos drew the Mongolia Bekhbayar Erdenebat and lost 7-4 in his first match at the World Championships. Erdenebat would go on to take fifth at the World Championships, and was one win away from pulling Ramos back into repechage.
Brent Metcalf was able to get his first every win at the World Championships in his third attempt, but sadly he too fell to an eventual fifth place finisher Mustafa Kaya of Turkey.
Why 2015 is really important:
Aside from the obvious importance of the United States trying to win a team World title on their home soil, this year also holds Olympic level ramifications. The top six finishers at the 2015 World Championships guarantee their team an Olympic berth. Since Ramos and Metcalf compete at Olympic weight-classes the need to at least make the bronze medal bout holds a lot of importance to every competitor in the United States.
Looking forward to Vegas:
So Brent and Tony will head to Las Vegas ready to compete for World titles for both the United States and the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. Both wrestlers not only want to win this year’s World Championships, but they are also looking to set themselves up to each make their first Olympic team.
For Ramos, it is still the beginning of his freestyle career. Already a two-time World Team member, Ramos has shown steady growth since he made his debut in Madison last June. He has had some close matches with some tough opponents (Erdenebat in 2014 and Hassan Rahimi of Iran) and in reality is right there with some of the World’s best that if things break Tony’s way could see him reaching the podium this year.
After wrestling mainly folkstyle since graduating high school (he was on the 2009 Junior World team) Ramos appears to still be getting back into freestyle wrestling. He does have great defense on his feet, and his single leg attack has definitely transitioned to the International level, the trick with Ramos has been his par terre defense and a little bit of situational wrestling, where an opponent can capitalize on Ramos when his positioning isn’t absolutely perfect.
Metcalf is a little bit of a different story on the World scene. In 2013 it looked like Metcalf was finally emerging as a medal threat and last year many pegged Metcalf as one of their favorites to medal for America. Here we are now in 2015 and Metcalf has ascended to #2 in the latest World rankings, but despite his consistency, his lack of success at the World tournament has fans hesitant to pick him.
Though I believe that this will be the year Metcalf can silence those who doubt him for a number of reasons. For starters his record on American soil over the past two years is unblemished. While for most that may mean they are simply beating up on their domestic competition, Metcalf has eight World Cup victories (including a couple World medalist), and a pair of victories at Beat the Streets in New York. Add to that his successful Pan-Am experience (won gold taking out two very good wrestlers) and you have a recipe for Metcalf to succeed. This World Championships will be on his home soil and while Metcalf has plenty of hardware overseas, the fact is, Metcalf looks pretty dang tough in the U.S. of A.