Iowa Alumni Magazine | June 2008 | People

Brent Metcalf

By IAM Staff
In his pursuit of perfection, patience pays off for a Hawkeye wrestler.

One of the top college wrestlers in the country, Brent Metcalf has finally achieved recognition for his hard work. Besides the usual dedication and perseverance demanded of any student-athlete, it just took patience—a whole year's worth.

In 2006, Metcalf and three other student-athletes followed coach Tom Brands, 92BS, from Virginia Tech's wrestling program to Iowa. When Virginia Tech refused to release the wrestlers from their scholarships—a move that prompted a national furor in wrestling circles—the new Hawkeyes had to sit out a season under NCAA transfer rules.

"There wasn't any doubt that I would follow Brands to Iowa," Metcalf recalls. "I knew I'd have to give up a year. To me, it was worth it."

That's quite a laid-back attitude for an athlete with a famously ferocious approach. But, as Metcalf puts it, "You can't walk around with your butt puckered up all the time."

The wrestler's deep-seated respect for his coach also helped him through that year of watching from the sidelines. Ever since he was a high school wrestler in his native Michigan, Metcalf has admired Olympic medalist Brands, known for his philosophy of "total domination" on the mat.

"My high school coach said, 'If you want to be great, here it is,'" recalls Metcalf. "'Emulate these wrestlers—Tom Brands and his twin brother, Terry [92BGS].'"

This past season, all that waiting—and practicing and working out—paid off for Metcalf. First, he took home a Big Ten championship title—the only individual Hawkeye to do so. Then, in March, he walked away from the NCAA national championships with another individual title. This time, he had some company: teammate Mark Perry also won an individual title, while the entire squad claimed Iowa's 21st national team title—the first under head coach Tom Brands and the first since 2000.

To top off his long-awaited first season for the Hawkeyes, Metcalf also became only the second Iowa athlete—after Mark Ironside, 98BS—to win the Hodge Trophy, regarded as the Heisman Trophy of wrestling.

Despite the honors he's piled up recently (he was also named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and Outstanding Wrestler at both the NCAA and Big Ten championships), Metcalf still continues his relentless pursuit of perfection. He remembers the few matches he's lost rather than the major events he's won.

For the last few months, he's focused on preparing for the Olympic trials in hopes of making the USA team that will travel to Beijing in August. His athletic and academic responsibilities—he's a Dean's List sociology major with a 3.5 GPA—don't leave much time for socializing, but Metcalf has got his priorities straight—total dedication for total domination.

"School and wrestling have got to be at the top," he says. "Once you get those things in order, you can worry about your social life."