By JIM NELSON, Courier Sports Writer (Original here)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. — It was a wrestling match, not an uneven fight.
Set to be annointed king of collegiate wrestling, Iowa’s Brent Metcalf tripped on his way to the throne.
Providing the stumbling block was North Carolina State’s Darrion Caldwell.
In what may be considered the biggest upset in college wrestling since Washington’s Larry Owings upset Iowa State’s Dan Gable in the 142-pound 1970 national finals, Caldwell stunned the defending 149-pound national champion, 11-6, in front of a capacity crowd of 17,385 Saturday at the Scottrade Center.
Metcalf, widely considered the most dominant wrestler in the country, was soundly beaten.
Caldwell scored two takedowns in the first minute and never allowed Metcalf to reach him over the final six minutes.
“He’s human,” Caldwell said. “It was a wrestling match. It was not like he had a gun and me a knife.”
Metcalf beat Caldwell at the NWCA all-star meet in Columbus, Ohio in November, 19-3.
That victory, which isn’t officially counted in statistics, avenged what had been Metcalf’s only other collegiate loss, a pin by Caldwell in the Cleveland duals last December.
Metcalf had won 69 straight matches since that loss.
But the November loss didn’t waiver Caldwell’s confidence.
“Coming into tonight, I instilled in my head I was going to be a national champion. I had no fear,” Caldwell said.
Metcalf made no excuses.
“I looked at it as I had to go in and take it away from him, not just go in there and expect things to happen because I’m Brent Metcalf, because I wrestle hard. That is not enough,” Metcalf said.
By the end of the second period, after Caldwell had built up nearly 1 minute, 30 seconds of riding time, it appeared as if the Wolfpack wrestler had broken Metcalf. For the first time, Metcalf looked tired in a match.
“I think I felt it a little bit earlier in the match because he took me down twice and was tough on top,” Metcalf said. “But I fought through it, thought I wrestled smart, stayed in my positions, but I didn’t really wrestle the way I typically wrestle, and that is where I failed.”
Several times, it appeared Metcalf was going to score on Caldwell, but Caldwell had an answer for everything Metcalf threw at him and won all the scrambles.
“It felt like I had broken him toward the end of the second period … that his fuel was on ‘E,'” Caldwell said.
FAST FALLS – Ohio State’s Reece Humphrey’s 12-second pin of Pitt’s Jimmy Conroy in the second round was the third-fastest pin in tournament history under folkstyle rules. In the quarterfinals, Cornell’s Troy Nickerson flattened Oklahoma’s Joey Fio in 14 seconds in Friday’s quarterfinals, which ranks as the fifth-fast pin.
THIS AND THAT – In the opening round of the tournament, 19 seeded wrestlers were upset, five more than last year, including one No. 1 seed – Mack Lewnes of Cornell at 165, a second seed in Penn State’s Bubba Jenkins at 149, plus three No. 5 seeds. … At 141, only J Jaggers, the three-seed and defending champion, was the only top-five seed to earn all-America honors. … Twenty-four schools had at least one of the 40 semifinal berths.
ATTENDANCE FIGURES – Through the first four sessions of the tournament, attendance clipped the 15,000 figure, including 16,682 to watch Friday’s semifinal session. The finals drew 17,385 Saturday for a six-session total of 97,111. That broke the previous attendance record of 96,944 set in 2000 in St. Louis.