I’m here with Brent Metcalf in the legendary Iowa Wrestling room on Wednesday, March 26th.
Brent, you just finished a workout and I appreciate you taking the time for an interview. You are fresh off the World Cup where you dominated with your best performance in International wrestling to date. First of all, congratulations for an outstanding performance representing our country for Team USA in the World Cup.
Metcalf: Thanks. It was a lot of fun. As far as the team perspective, I think it was a little bit of a letdown because of the dual with Iran. We were in a couple of matches where we had it won and we let off the gas pedal or whatever it might of been. It would have been nice to have a great individual performance and a great team performance. In the end though, I am excited that I won all of my matches. It is an upgrade from last year when I went 4-1 when I lost to Iran. This year I went 5-0 and beat Iran so I can feel good about that.
Did you feel this performance coming on in your training? The match scores were similar to your college days. This was you taking your wrestling to the next level against the top teams and wrestlers in the world.
Metcalf: There were a couple of matches that were close in score. I do not like the close ones. I think you can for sure attribute some of it to the rules and to the training. It has really come to that it is a wrestling match now. Before there was game planning and strategy. I think that hurt me. Working off the clinch and the short periods. So I think the rules played a lot into that and if you look at all of the wrestling in general, there was a lot of big scoring matches. A lot of points put up. There are several things going on. One is obviously I am working and I try and improve every month and every year. It’s a match now because you have six minutes. You do not have to worry about a mistake and then they hold you off for a minute and a half. Just go and wrestle. If you give up two early that’s fine, just keep wrestling.
Do you think the new rules benefit your style because you are much more aggressive than the regular International competitor?
Metcalf: I think so for sure. You took away the games, you took away the tactics. There’s still tactics, but there’s six minutes now. You can recover from a mistake and a guy feels you now. He doesn’t have a choice. Before he could ding you early, end the period, and then hang out for two minutes and win the clinch when he didn’t have to do a lot. Now he knows he has to go for six minutes, no matter what.
There should be some real good momentum for you for competition coming up. First off is the U.S. Open. What is your current training phase?
Metcalf: Right now we are going to be ramping it up next week. We’re about three weeks out now. So the next week and half will be ramped up pretty good. My conditioning and my shape are right where I need to be at. It’s pretty good right now. You just fine tune it the best that you can over the next week and a half. Then you get yourself ready to go.
Not to look to much in the future because I know you are focused on the U.S. Open, but we have the World Team Trials in Madison, WI on Memorial Day weekend I believe and then the Worlds. Where are they?
Metcalf: The Worlds are in September in Uzbekistan.
Did they go to a two day format now for International wrestling as opposed to one day?
Metcalf: It’s still one day for the rest of the World. But the U.S. Open is a two day tournament. The United States wants to put out an example of a two day tournament. I think we also did overtime last year and the World does not. We are trying to make an example.
How has having a family now changed you as a wrestler for your career? That is a big change from college. Now with a family commitment with a son (Chase), how has that made your career different?
Metcalf: One is that I think you have to take a little bit of selfishness away. I’ve got a great wife that supports me. There’s a different priority there now. He’s #1 in my life now. He’s gotta be. So you have to organize your time a little bit differently, but wrestling is still one of the most important things in the world for me. I’ve got to make sure it’s that way. I can’t let my family take my career in a different direction. It comes down to a great wife that lets me train and knows what my priorities are and she is completely supportive of me.
As far as competition, it has been very beneficial for me. There’s like this relief because there’s a lot of joy and happiness that comes from having a child and I think the way that you measure yourself in life, at least I always have, has always been in the sport of wrestling in the past. How well did I do, how many championships did I win. And now my perspective is more like I have a son and I measure myself by that. So I think the pressure of performance is off because priorities have changed.
Are you working any camps this summer?
Metcalf: We’ve always got the University of Iowa camps. I’ll be here for those. As far as my camp schedule goes, I will play it by ear. People contact me and I do the best that I can.
So say next fall or winter someone wanted you to do a clinic, how would they get ahold of you?
Metcalf: They can get ahold of me through Iowa wrestling and they will contact me. That is the best way.
How does Iowa Wrestling get back on top like when you were wrestling here?
Metcalf: I don’t know if I have the answer. I don’t know if anybody here has the answer either. I don’t think there’s one answer of like this is going to do it. I think it’s a culture thing. I think it’s an expectation thing. The expectations from the coaching staff and from the Club are there. I think the right things are being preached. I think the right things are being taught. I think the right work is being done in here. But out on the mat, we’re not seeing it. I think that comes from the culture of the guys. You know, how bad do they want it? I put it on them.
Coach Brands is always going to put it on himself because that’s the nature of him and how this program’s run. For me I don’t have to do that so I put it on the guys. I put it on me because I have a role in helping these guys. But I put it on them. Why is that we’re in here and they are doing the right things. There’s not a difference between when I competed and now as far as what you see in the room. So why is it that we cannot produce out on the mat? And the culture, is it expectations? When you go out and Tony Ramos makes the National finals. How come the other nine guys do not feel an urge or an obligation to be out there with him? Do they go home with All American status, really kicking themselves in the butt wishing that they could have been with Tony Ramos? Or is it relief that the season is over? Their head’s down, but they turn the corner and they’re happy with life because they have a break. I would challenge, you need more guys that are really upset. Really in the heart, core, just tore up.
I think that if we can get that, I don’t know how you do it, I don’t have the answer. But if you get guys motivated that way and driven to the point where it’s life or death out on the mat, it’s win or lose, but life or death. It matters that much. I know we’ve got the right guys. I know we’ve got the right staff. I know we are putting in the right work. And I know they got the technique and skills. They’ve have it all. It’s just when push comes to shove, you can’t take a back seat. There can’t be another option other than winning. And if you lose, you have to come back. Period. I mean that’s the expectation of this program that you have to put on yourself. Well, we’re not in the team race. Well then why are we not in the team race? Because you didn’t put it on yourself to come back. And you can put that on a number of guys. Whether they came back to get fifth or they didn’t place at all.
You’ve been the face of Iowa Wrestling since you arrived on campus in 2006. I am sure you know there are a lot of Iowa Wrestling fans like me that follow your every move in International wrestling. What’s it like for you knowing that you are carrying the torch for the legendary Iowa Wrestling program every time you step on a mat in this country and around the world? Is that something you think about or that you aware of? Or is it business as usual and that’s something that comes with being Brent Metcalf.
Metcalf: I think you do think about it a little bit. You think about yourself and what you represent and where you come from. And right now I come from this wrestling room. So I am a product of this wrestling room and I am apart of this Club. This Club is a reflection of our program, right? So, sure when you talk about the World Team Trials and you think about your competitive side that wants to put Hawkeyes on that team. You talk about Ohio RTC had four guys that represented at the World Championships. And that’s something that they brag about. Hey, let’s get our guys on that team. That would make me feel good and it would make our program look good. Like you said, in the end you’re carrying the torch for this program.
Then you talk about the feeling we have after this year. We don’t feel too good around here right now. You make the World Team and that is something to hang your hat on. But we need some medals. What’s the first thing this program is about? Olympic Gold Medals, World Championships. NCAA Championships. Those three things in that order. So, if you going to ask what our priorities are, I just said them. Number one – Olympic Gold Medals. That’s really the torch that I bear. So I guess that is my perspective.
I hope to touch bases with you before the World Team Trials and keep the Hawkeye fans up to date on your career all the way through the Worlds. You need to know about all of the Iowa Wrestling fans that enjoy following your career. I wanted to wish you the best of luck and thank you for your time.
Metcalf: Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.