Metcalf will look to correct 2012 misstep

Brent Metcalf at the 2015 World Cup. Tony Rotundo - Wrestlersarewarrios.com

Brent Metcalf at the 2015 World Cup. Tony Rotundo – Wrestlersarewarrios.com

Brent Metcalf will compete at 65kg, which will be contested on Saturday, April 9th.

The 2012 Olympic Team Trials results still weigh heavy on some Hawkeye fans, as for the first time since 1976 the University of Iowa failed to produce a wrestler on the Olympic squad. Many had pinned their hopes on 2010 World Team member Brent Metcalf, who was three years removed from one of the greatest careers as a Hawkeye.

In addition to Iowa looking to continue their Olympic tradition, 2012 was also special with the Trials being hosted in Iowa City. This was even better news, as Metcalf had gone through his entire Hawkeye career without suffering a loss on his home mat, and fans were hoping that trend would continue.

We all know from history that Metcalf did not make that Olympic team, a fact that many fans didn’t even understand at the time of the match based on the intricacies of freestyle wrestling scoring.

[Side note: We won’t dive into the old freestyle rules, and how they have changed to better the sport since 2012, but Andy Hamilton of the Des Moines Register did, and you should check that out.]

This Olympic cycle has been different.

Metcalf is no longer the new comer on the block, he is a seasoned veteran that has made three straight World teams at 65kg/143 pounds, and accumulated numerous medals across the international circuit. Heading into this weekend’s Trials, Metcalf will be viewed as the favorite to win his weight, even if it is only a razor thin margin.

Saturday, April 9
Men’s freestyle (65 kg and 125 kg)
Women’s freestyle (58 kg, 63 kg and 69 kg)
Greco-Roman (59 kg, 66 kg, 85 kg and 98 kg)
8:00 a.m. – Doors open to Carver-Hawkeye Arena
9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Preliminaries through Challenge Tournament finals
5:00 p.m. – Doors open to Carver-Hawkeye Arena
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – Best two of three Championship Series
Sunday, April 10
Men’s freestyle (57 kg, 74 kg, 86 kg, 97 kg)
Women’s freestyle (48 kg, 53 kg, 75 kg)
Greco-Roman (75 kg and 130 kg)
8:00 a.m. – Doors open to Carver-Hawkeye Arena
9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Preliminaries through Challenge Tournament finals
5:00 p.m. – Doors open to Carver-Hawkeye Arena
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – Best two of three Championship Series.

This past week USA Wrestling released their weight-class rankings, which is essentially what we will be looking at as tournament pre-seeds, and Metcalf claimed the top spot. Sitting in second was 70kg World bronze medalist James Green, followed by Jordan Oliver, Jimmy Kennedy, and Reece Humphrey.

Green has gotten a lot of the talk in the past year after he broke out in Las Vegas bringing home a World medal. Despite that Green will need to drop five kilograms (11 pounds), some declare that he is the favorite over Metcalf. There is a lot of buzz surrounding Green, and he just may be the top challenger this weekend.

Jordan Oliver is a logical choice at the #3 spot, given he has reached the finals each of the last two seasons, going 0-4 against Metcalf in those matches. Oliver has been able to beat everyone in the field except Metcalf to this point.

Both Jimmy Kennedy and Reece Humphrey come into 65kg after each have wrestled most of the last few seasons down at 61kg. Reece is actually a three-time World team member at 61kg, finishing as high as eight in 2013, while Kennedy took 10th in 2014. Both guys bring a lot of experience to the table, but to continue the same tune, Metcalf has been dominant since he took over in 2013.

Brent Metcalf AGON

Metcalf faces off with Aaron Pico at AGON

The next two wrestlers are Logan Stieber (#6) and Aaron Pico (#7), who have received a lot of attention as the future of this weight. Stieber wrapped up a four-time NCAA champion career for Ohio State in 2015, and is quickly regaining the form that made him a Junior age level World medalist. Pico has performed very well in his age level over the last three years, winning a Cadet title in 2013, and has medaled back-to-back years at the Junior World tournament.

Pico and Metcalf have met on one occasion, a year ago at the AGON wrestling championships, which Metcalf won 4-1.

The two other big names to watch for are Kellen Russell and Zain Retherford.

Retherford because he is known to be dangerous in freestyle. A Cadet World champion, Retherford would have made two Junior teams as well if it weren’t for the fact that Aaron Pico appears to have his number. Retherford will be a tough out for whatever wrestler he is paired with.

It seems crazy, but the fact is that Kellen Russell is ranked eighth in the USA rankings, which means a wrestler that was good enough to win the 2013 US Open is a potential quarterfinals opponent for Metcalf. There isn’t an easy guy to face in this top eight, but Russell has a resume that stacks up with the best of them.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

1) This weight is not yet qualified for the Olympics. The winner of this weight will need to travel to Mongolia to assure that USA will be able to send a wrestler to Rio at this weight.

2) Unlike World Team Trials, the US Open champion does not get an automatic bye to the finals, which means Metcalf will need to go through the entire bracket.

3) Each weight is a regular bracket with seeding that is contested until we have a pair of finalists. Once we have two finalists, they will wrestle a best-of-three to determine who gets the Olympic spot.

65kg Men’s Freestyle
2015 World Team member, 65kg – Brent Metcalf (New York AC/Hawkeye WC)
2015 World Team member, 61kg – Reece Humphrey (New York AC/Ohio RTC)
2015 World Team member, 70kg – James Green (Titan Mercury WC/NWTC)
2015 Bill Farrell International champion – Jordan Oliver (Sunkist Kids)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier champion – Jimmy Kennedy (New York AC/Cliff Keen WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier runner-up – Logan Stieber (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier fourth place – Aaron Pico (Titan Mercury WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier fifth place – Kellen Russell (New York AC/Cliff Keen WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier sixth place – Frank Molinaro (Nittany Lion WC)
2015 Olympic Trials Qualifier seventh place – Jason Chamberlain (Titan Mercury WC/NWTC)
2016 Dave Schultz Memorial champion – Jayson Ness (Minnesota Storm)
2016 NCAA D1 champion, 141 – Dean Heil (Oklahoma State/Cowboy WC)
2016 NCAA D1 champion, 149 – Zain Retherford (Penn State/Nittany Lion WC)
2016 Last Chance OTT Qualifier champion – Bernard Futrell (Titan Mercury WC/Cliff Keen WC)

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