Former NCAA wrestling champs garnered serious hardware – and prize money -- at the 2014 FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals, with Brent Metcalf winning gold, while Ed Ruth, Jake Varner and Tervel Dlagnev earned bronze medals in freestyle competition in Baku, Azerbaijan Friday.
Metcalf, a two-time NCAA champ for the University of Iowa, won the gold medal and a $10,000 prize at 65 kilos/143 pounds. The former Hawkeye – who is a member of the 2014 U.S. men’s freestyle team competing at the 2014 World championships -- defeated Azerbaijan’s Magomed Muslimov in the finals, 6-6, by criteria, having the highest-scoring move with a four-point headlock roll. To get to the finals, Metcalf beat Murad Nuhkadiev of Russia, 9-0, then shut out Canada’s Haislan Garcia, 2-0, in the semifinals.
Three of Metcalf’s World teammates each won bronze medals and individual cash prizes of $2,000.
Ed Ruth, Penn State’s first three-time NCAA titlewinner, claimed a bronze medal at 86 kilos/189 pounds by forfeit over Taimuraz Friev of Spain. The former Nittany Lion won his first match by pinning Latvia’s Armands Zvirbulis, then scored a technical fall over Maqomedqadji Xatiyev of Azerbaijan. However, in the semifinals, Ruth lost to Russia’s Shamil Kudiyamagomedov, 4-7.
Jake Varner, 2012 Olympic gold medalist, got a 10-0 technical fall win over 2006 Junior World champion Imants Lagodskis of Latvia in the 97 kilos/213 pound bronze-medal match. The two-time NCAA champ for Iowa State got off to a rough start, losing to 2010 World champion and two-time Olympic medalist Khetag Gazyumov of Azerbaijan, 1-5, in the first round. However, when Gazyumov reached the finals, Varner was pulled back into the repechage, where he defeated Roman Bakirov of Azerbaijan, 7-2.
Tervel Dlagnev, who placed fifth for the US at the 2012 Olympics, pinned 1998 World champion Alexis Rodriguez of Azerbaijan in the bronze-medal bout at 125 kilos/275 pounds. Dlagnev, a two-time NCAA Division II heavyweight titlewinner for the University of Nebraska-Kearney, opened with a 10-0 technical fall over Soslan Gagloev of Slovakia, then lost to 2010 Junior World bronze medalist Giorgi Sakandelidze of Georgia, 4-6, to find himself in the bronze finals.
Placing fifth at 57 kilos/125.5 pounds was Nico Megaludis, NCAA finalist who still wrestles at Penn State. The Nittany Lion just missed out on medaling by being held scoreless in the bronze-medal bout by Azerbaijan’s Makhmud Magomedov, 0-11.