Metcalf: 'I've got to find a way to become a better wrestler'
LAS VEGAS — While he entered the week as the second-ranked freestyle wrestler in the world at 65 kilograms, Brent Metcalf left the United World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas without a medal.
Metcalf was outpointed by world No. 1 and 2014 world silver medalist Seyed Ahmad Mohammadi in the tournament's round of eight. The former Iowa Hawkeye then lost out on a chance to return in the repechage bracket when Mohammadi was pinned by No. 5-ranked Italian Frank Chamizo in the semifinals.
"You cannot let (Mohammadi) control the pace early," Metcalf told USA TODAY Sports following his elimination. "You've got to put that on me to get better and figure it out. ... If you're going to be the best in the world, you can't let someone control you."
In their round-of-eight contest, Iranian wrestler Mohammadi raced out to a 3-0 lead after the opening three minutes, and while Metcalf pushed forward during the final period, he was unable to overcome the early deficit.
Metcalf was able to trim the difference to 5-4, bringing the crowd to a fever pitch as he tried desperately to score the comeback victory. A brief timeout with seconds left to address a cut on Metcalf's forehead gave him the opportunity for one last salvo from a neutral position, but he was unable to capitalize on the restart, falling short by a single point.
"If you want to be at the top of the heap, you've got to be the best guy, and I wasn't today," Metcalf said.
Metcalf's early passage didn't prove especially easy. After steamrolling Hungarian opponent Norbert Lukacs in the qualifying round, 11-0, Metcalf was tested in the round of 16 by China's Katai Yeerlanbieke.
A visibly tiring Metcalf held a 4-3 lead in the final seconds of the match, but Yeerlanbieke slipped around to his back and drove his opponent forward to the mat. Despite bearing his opponent's full weight on his back, Metcalf kept his knees off the floor, preventing Yeerlanbieke from stealing the result at the buzzer.
Yeerlanbieke asked for a video review of the final sequence, but officials confirmed the initial ruling, awarding Metcalf an additional point for his opponent's failed challenge, sealing the 5-3 result for the American.
Metcalf remains hopeful to qualify for next year's Summer Olympic Games in Brazil, though his disappointing early exit from United World Wrestling Championships means there's still work to be done.
"I think there's a lot of letdown and frustration right now," Metcalf admitted. "I've got to find a way to become a better wrestler — and a better wrestler in a lot of positions."