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On the Mat: ODU Senior Joey Metzler

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: February 02, 2011
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Feb. 2, 2011

ODU Sports.com will feature an ODU wrestler once a week. This week's story is on senior Joey Metzler.

After taking the year off last year, Joey Metzler has come back this season as a strong key to Monarch wrestling. As a senior, he has high expectations this season, which include a conference championship, qualifying for Nationals, and being an All-American. He took third in the conference championship in the 2008-09 season.

Metzler started wrestling in sixth grade after watching his older brother, David, and some of his friends wrestling. He was attracted to the fierce competition and especially the fact that it is an individual sport.

"What you put into it is what you get out of it, so there's no one to blame for anything, but yourself," Metzler stated.

One of the main factors in Metzler's choice in ODU was head coach Steve Martin and Martin's success at the high school level. Metzler knew he wanted to wrestle at the Division I level and believed Martin would be the best coach for him, so ODU was an easy choice. Martin recruited him because of his scrappiness and added in his four years here his technique has improved 100 percent.

Since joining ODU, he admits it's been a tough experience, both emotionally and physically. From this experience though he believes he's grown.

"It's made us all mentally tougher," he recalled, "it's made taking down school or personal barriers much easier." He also said that it has made him more disciplined not only in the sport, but has made him a more responsible athlete, student, and person.

Even though he took last wrestling season off, he always knew he would come back to wrestle his senior season. During his year off, he tried to stay away from the sport to get a break, but once he discussed coming back with the coaches, he was training again. Over the summer, Metzler worked out at home with former ODU wrestler and two-time NCAA qualifier, Adam Wright, and once back at school he was getting into shape for his final wrestling season.

In preparations for a match, he tries not to psych himself out by pacing and warming up too much. He likes to stay calm with a clear mind while he waits for the wrestler in front of him to finish, so he can finally take the mat and take care of business. On the mat, Metzler believes his best weapon is take down's on his feet, and he works with his coaches to perfect this technique. By perfecting this, then he won't have to worry about other things to such a degree, because he can focus on what he is good at.

Tracking a 16-15 record so far this season, including three wins against ranked opponents, this has been his most successful season yet. Metzler is ranked 25th by D1CollegeWrestling.net. He credits a lot of this to the long hours he's spent with Martin working on his technique and skill. "I didn't put together how I wrestle best until this season," Metzler said. Adding that the team and coaches really clicked this year, which was an advantage.

As a senior, he has gained a lot of experience thus making fewer mistakes which has led to his confidence, which he believes is key. His confidence allows him to not be afraid of losing or winning, but rather just going out there and competing. Martin added that his key to success this year has been his never-back-down mentality.

"He's not afraid of the competition level, whether it's the number one guy in the country or the worst guy at his weight, he's always going to show up and wrestle," said Martin, "Some kids have a tendency to back down and be scared against the higher kids, but he likes the battle.

He strives to keep the same confidence whether he is wrestling an unranked or ranked opponent, which he has wrestled nine this year so far. Metzler tries to approach all matches the same, no matter who the opponent is.

"I'm excited when I do face some ranked guys, but to me they're just another guy that have a number in front of them," he said about his ranked opponents this year. He went on to add, "To me, that's just an opportunity to take them down and upset them. To take over some rankings and build on my confidence."

"In his last six matches, he's got six more guys in the top twenty so he's not getting any breaks schedule-wise, but that'll get him ready for the end of the year.

All it takes is for him to beat a few of them and get his confidence level up a little bit higher," Martin said about the rest of the season. He also went on to say the Meztler is "good enough to be an All-American and he could see him standing on the podium at the end of the season."

Confidence is something that as a senior he hopes to show through example to the underclassman and lead them to understand it's not about winning every match but their confidence and the way they carry themselves. As one of four seniors, he does see himself as a leader, although not extremely loud about it but wants to pass on to the freshmen what he has learned about the mental game and strategy of wrestling.

Metzler credits his brother, who wrestled at VMI, as his inspiration in wrestling. He also looks up to his high school coach, father, and grandfather because they are who shaped him into who he is today and made him as tough as he is on the mat. One of Metzler's biggest goals is to make it to the National Championship so his family can come watch him.

By Blaze Byrd

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