Brent Metcalf was arguably the best Iowa wrestler of the last 10-15 years (two NCAA championships, one NCAA runner-up finish; Matt McDonough equaled those stats, but Metcalf was probably the more dominant wrestler overall) and it's been a pleasure to watch him succeed on the international scene as well. He's established as the pre-eminent force at 65 KG in the United States, winning multiple U.S. Open and World Team Trial events against the best America has to offer at that weight. He's also added several medals since graduating from Iowa in 2010, medaling at the World Cup the last two years, winning several medals at the Ivan Yarygin Golden Grand Prix event, and even bringing home a gold medal at the Heydar Aliyev Memorial event in Baku in 2014.
Friday, Metcalf added another medal to his collection -- a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. As the name suggests, the Pan American Games bring together athletes from across the Americas -- North, Central, and South. Granted, that brings with it a certain caveat where wrestling is concerned -- there are some good wrestling nations in the Americas (most notably the United States and Cuba), but omitting Europe and Asia means leaving out countless great wrestlers from Russia, Mongolia, Japan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and many more countries. Still, you can only beat the opponents in front of you -- and Brent Metcalf did precisely that.
What an honor to represent #TeamUSA! Been waiting a long time to wrap myself in the Red White and Blue. Great event, hoping to do so again on the worlds biggest stage come September! Thank you Fans for all your awesome support! Especially the Hawk fans who made it to Toronto to cheer.. I-O-W-A! #GoHawks #TeamUSA
Metcalf's tournament began with a completely dominating 10-0 technical fall win over Guatemala's Marbin Miranda in the quarterfinals. He followed that up with his toughest match of the tournament, a come-from-behind 10-8 decision win over Puerto Rico's Franklin Gomez. With time running out in the second (and final) period, Metcalf hit a gutwrench to tie the match at 8-8, and then scored the winning takedown with just seconds left. If Gomez's name seems vaguely familiar, it should -- he wrestled for Michigan State around the same time that Metcalf was at Iowa, although he wrestled at 133 lbs in college (he had several memorably tense encounters with Iowa's Dan Dennis).
After that scare in the semifinals, the finals were a breeze -- Metcalf cruised to a comfortable 8-2 win over Cuba's Franklin Maren, an opponent that Metcalf had defeated earlier this year at the Beat the Streets event in New York City and the Wrestling World Cup in Los Angeles. Maren made the finals by upsetting Canada's Haislan Garcia, an opponent who had given Metcalf some challenging matches in the past. But no matter who it comes against or what the competition, winning a gold medal always feels good. Congrats, Brent! Hopefully his good form here carries over to the World Championships in Las Vegas later this fall.
QUARTERFINALS: Brent Metcalf TECH FALL (10-0) Marbin Miranda (Guatemala)
SEMIFINALS: Brent Metcalf DEC (10-8) Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico)
FINALS: Brent Metcalf DEC (8-2) Franklin Maren (Cuba)
Here's Metcalf celebrating his win:
Metcalf's win also capped a tremendous tournament for the entire U.S. wrestling team at the Pan American Games:
GO USA AWESOME