Metcalf wins Hodge Trophy
Iowa sophomore Brent Metcalf climaxed his first year of college wrestling by capturing the 149-pound title at the NCAA Championships, March 22, in St. Louis. Metcalf was also voted the tourney's utstanding Wrestler for winning the weight class considered the toughest in college wrestling this year. For this year's performance, Metcalf has been named the winner of the Dan Hodge Trophy for 2008 - completing his clean sweep of the Big Three (NCAA champion, O.W. and Hodge winner).
The Dan Hodge Trophy is presented annually to the nation's most dominant college wrestler. It is named for the undefeated, three-time NCAA champion from Oklahoma University in the mid 1950s. The only wrestler to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated (April 1, 19576), Hodge has the highest pinning percentage in collegiate history, and was known for his dominating style of wrestling. The award is co-sponsored by W.I.N. Magazine and the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Waterloo, Iowa.
"The purpose of the award, initiated in 1995, is to reward excellence in college wrestling and, particularly, a dominating style of wrestling," said Mike Chapman, founder of the trophy. "The way a wrestler competes is what we look for. Going undefeated is very important, but equally important is going all-out on the mat - winning through domination, the way Dan Hodge did. We think a dominating style of wrestling is a key element to the sport's popularity and we want to reward that style of wrestling."
The first winner was T.J. Jaworsky of North Carolina, in 1995. Last year's winner was Missouri's Ben Askren, for the second straight season. The only other multi-year winner was Iowa State's Cael Sanderson, who captured three straight Hodges, the last in 2002.
The award is often called "The Heisman Trophy of wrestling" and is presented at the wrestling banquet of the winning school. It is usually presented again in the fall, during halftime of a football game. Upwards of 70,000 fans have seen some recipients hold the trophy aloft at halftime. The only other Hawkeye to win the award was Mark Ironside, in 1998.
This sesaon, Metcalf posted a season record of 39-1, which included 12 pins, seven tech falls and nine major decisions. Seventy percent (28) of his victories were by pin, tech fall or major. The other top-two contenders were Keith Gavin (174) of Pittsburgh and Ohio State's Mike Pucillo (184).
A two-time finalist, Gavin finished his senior campaign 27-0 with five pins, two tech falls and five majors, giving the Panther senior bonus-point wins in 44 percent of his matches. The Buckeye sophomore national champ finished 34-1 with
six pins, six techs and eight majors. Pucillo grabbed bonus points in 57 percent of his matches.
Metcalf was selected over Gavin and other one-loss wrestlers primarily because of his number of pins, dominance in bonus-point wins and strength of schedule.
This was Metcalf's first year of competition at the college level, as he was forced to miss the 2007 season after transferring from Virginia Tech when Tom Brands accepted the head job at Iowa in the spring of 2006. Metcalf compiled a stunning 228-0 record in high school.
"Brent Metcalf epitomizes what this award is all about," said Chapman. "He brings a mindset to the mat that is hard to deny. He goes all out, every match. He never seems satisfied. He has brought great excitement to the sport this year, leading Iowa to a runaway victory at the NCAA tournament.
"I've attended 38 NCAA tournaments, and he is one of the most talked-about wrestlers I can remember."
Tom Brands said winning the Hodge Trophy was one of the goals for his wrestlers all season long, and he was extremely pleased to hear that Metcalf was the winner.
"Everything he's gotten in the sport he's earned," said Brands, "and this is no different. It's who he is, the way he was raised. He appreciates the award immensely because he knows what it stands for. It stands for domination and he embodies that."
W.I.N. publisher Bryan Van Kley agreed Metcalf's approach towards domination and national title at 149 pounds made him a very worthy recipient of the award.
"When I interviewed Metcalf after winning the title, he talked about being disappointed about giving up the two first-period takedowns in the finals. He also said he won't look back with any regrets (after his college career) about not having a fourth year of college eligibility after transferring to Iowa, saying he will be remembered for what he does on the World and Olympic level. Wrestling needs more Brent Metcalfs," Van Kley said.
The Dan Hodge Trophy will be presented to Metcalf at the Iowa wrestling banquet on May 4 by representatives of W.I.N. and the Dan Gable Museum. The banquet will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Iowa City.
Results from both the preseason NWCA All-Star meet, as well as the early December Las Vegas Invite, do count towards W.I.N.'s rankings and individuals who are be considered for the Dan Hodge Trophy. For the NCAA's record-keeping, the results from the All-Star meet do not count and the Vegas tourney's results have been taken off the books this year as the tournament did not do proper skin checks.
2008 Hodge Trophy Finalists
The following is a 2007-08 statistical breakdown of seven college wrestlers who deserved mention among top candidates for the Hodge Trophy.
Name, School Record Pins TF MD
Phil Davis, Penn State 26-1 8 3 6
Angel Escobedo, Indiana 34-1 8 1 8
Tervel Dlagnev, UNK (Div. II) 38-0 16 5 5
Dustin Fox, Northwestern 29-1 2 3 8
Keith Gavin, Pittsburgh 27-0 5 2 5
Brent Metcalf, Iowa 39-1 12 7 9
Mike Pucillo, Ohio State 34-1 6 6 8