By ANDY WOLF
Brad Metz’s self-proclaimed emotional roller coaster ride is almost over.
The sixth-year senior wrestler for the University of Findlay has one more shot at achieving his ultimate goal.
“My goal ever since I’ve even came to college was to win a national title,” Metz said.
Metz is a two-time national qualifier for the Roughnecks.
He made his first trip in 2014, but didn’t place.
Just last year, Metz became an All-American for the first time by taking seventh at 174 pounds.
The result wasn’t enough.
“I didn’t feel too great honestly,” Metz said.
Because in between the two trips, he’s battled constant injuries that he has viewed as obstacles for his own perceived potential.
Metz’s expectations are built on all the work he’s put in.
Now, with a 27-4 record and a No. 4 national ranking at 184 pounds, he’s waiting for the payoff.
Metz and the rest of the 14th-ranked Roughnecks begin the two-day Division II regional meet today at UF’s Koehler Fitness and Recreation Complex.
“The ultimate goal is to win every match, try to win it by as many points as I can,” Metz said. “When I’m doing it, I want to be exciting and obviously I want to win (it all).”
Four match wins are needed to advance.
Win four more and he’s a national champ.
Metz wasn’t 100 percent at last year’s national tournament where he was the fourth-ranked 174-pounder.
He was still recovering from a torn pectoral muscle suffered during the offseason while wrestling freestyle and Greco-Roman matches at the University Nationals in Akron.
The recovery took six months before Metz hit the mat again in orange and black.
When he got back, he felt weaker and couldn’t lift to get stronger.
“It’s my fault. It’s nobody else’s fault,” Metz said. “I expected to perform better than I did. I just didn’t.”
His season ended not knowing whether he had wrestled the last match of his career.
Metz applied for another year of eligibility and only waited a few weeks before the NCAA approved his request. He had a strong case thanks to his history of tough-luck injuries.
He pushed himself harder after coming so close to being an All-American as a freshman.
“It was heartbreaking,” Metz said. “You think you’ve got to work harder but you’re already working as hard as you can.”
But as the regional tournament rolled around the next year, Metz developed knee troubles. They became so bad, he eventually wore knee braces to wrestle.
“I sucked it up, tried to go and I wrestled fine,” Metz said.
But his body wasn’t quite groomed in peak wrestling shape.
After opening with three wins, Metz lost his next two matches 6-5 in sudden victory and 3-1 to snuff his national tournament chances.
A broken foot the next season limited him to just 12 matches and sidelined him for the regional tournament.
“Things accumulated. Oh, it’s like why me?” Metz said. “It’s an opportunity for me to grow.”
With another new life this season, back hard at work went Metz.
Though he knows even those at the regional stage have worked hard to get there.
Often is the case, the mental aspect of wrestling comes into play more.
For that, Metz builds his confidence by writing down and visualizing his goal every day.
“If you think, in your mind, that you’ve done enough to reach that goal and worked harder than the person across from you then there’s no reason why you can’t be the one on top,” Metz said.
Just two summers ago, Metz made a trip to Mongolia with Athletes In Action to train, share faith and participate in a tournament with hundreds of wrestlers.
He left for the “middle of nowhere to a big pole barn” and stayed two weeks.
Metz came back an improved, yet different wrestler.
The wrestling was not only of high quality, but of a different style.
“One guy, the way he tied up, he didn’t feel strong; he didn’t feel fast,” Metz said. “But he was so fluent in his moves, you could tell he was confident.
“… You could shoot a double leg on somebody here and they will sprawl. Over there, they’ll let you hit it and they’ll try to toss you and roll through.”
Through some coaches who didn’t speak English, Metz added a few things to his repertoire such as using his “feet as hands” to initiate takedowns to score more.
Scoring is something Metz is already actively trying to do.
After feeling out his opponent, he takes what he considers as “100 percent” shots.
“After I score, I’m not letting you out,” Metz said. “I’m going to ride hard.”
The style lends itself for more team bonus points and a more fun match for Metz.
“The mindset isn’t so much don’t get scored on as it is I need to score as many points as I can,” Metz said.
The proof is in the results, too.
Metz is rated the 10th-most dominant Division II wrestler in any weight class for averaging 3.60 team points per match.
His first match today is against Newbury’s Nick Weldon (15-11).
Should he win, he’ll meet Faris Teia (25-8) of North Carolina-Pembroke.
“My bar, even when I took seventh, is to be a national champion,” Metz said. “Seventh just wasn’t good enough. This year, too, the goal has always been a national title.
“Anything less than a national title, it’s not going to make me feel like the work I put in paid off. I feel like the work I put in is going to get me there and I’ve just got to trust the process.”
Wrestling: Metz has set the bar high
By ANDY WOLF