McDonough Bounces Back

Dec. 8, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The media dangled two excuses in front of Matt McDonough to explain an 11-7 overtime loss to redshirt freshman Jesse Delgado of Illinois on Dec. 2: He sneered at both.

You didn’t have tape on this new guy yet, right, Matt?

“I don’t attribute it as much to someone else as myself,” the University of Iowa two-time NCAA finalist at 125 pounds said. “I wrestled the whole match, had a lead for most of the match, but my level of readiness has to increase.”

It was because the dual didn’t start at 125 and you had to sit around for more than hour, right, Matt?

“I think it was me not doing what I do best, and not letting anything, especially in the course of the match, change the way I wrestle,” McDonough said.

McDonough and the No. 1 ranked Hawkeyes host Northern Iowa tonight at 7 p.m., on Mediacom Mat inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes will not compete again until the Midlands Championships on Dec. 29-30.

The buzz around the wrestling world late Friday evening was Delgado’s upset of McDonough, who had won 42 career dual matches without a loss. Delgado earned the first takedown, then the next 3 minutes, 10 seconds belonged to McDonough, who built a 6-2 lead, had more than a minute of riding time, and forced Delgado into a stall warning with 13 seconds left in the second period.

Although McDonough received a point for stalling with six seconds remaining, the third period — and overtime — was controlled by the Illini lightweight. The result gave Illinois a 13-12 lead with two matches remaining.

Iowa closed strong with major decisions by Tony Ramos at 133 and Montell Marion at 141 to win, 20-13 — the 82nd consecutive dual without a loss for the Hawkeyes.

McDonough rebounded well two days later, compiling 2:44 of riding time and recording a 6-0 win over Ryak Finch of Iowa State.

“You have to learn from everything and take everything for what it’s worth,” McDonough said. “Improve, refocus on the things you have to do, and work on your offense. I have to pressure guys with what I do best. That’s what has to happen from now on.”

McDonough owns a 73-4 career record. His first collegiate loss was to Indiana’s Angel Escobedo, 6-4, in the finals of the Big Ten Conference Championships in 2010. McDonough won five straight matches at the NCAA Championships to win the national title at 125.

His second loss was to Northwestern’s Brandon Precin, 3-1, in the finals of the 2010 Midlands Championships. The two wrestled three more times that season with McDonough winning by fall in the dual, winning 3-1 in the finals of the Big Ten Championships, and winning 3-1 in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships.

McDonough didn’t have an opportunity to avenge a 7-1 loss to Arizona State’s Anthony Robles in the finals of the 2011 NCAA Championships (it was the last match for Robles, a senior). It is almost certain he will see Delgado again — Midlands, Big Ten Championships, NCAA Championships.

“You have to put (the loss) away right away,” McDonough said. “You never like it or you are never happy about it. It always bothers me in a sense when I think about it. It’s on to the next match, otherwise I’m not going to be able to wrestle to my full potential.”

Tonight McDonough faces Northern Iowa senior Cruse Aarhus, a graduate of Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School. In 2007, Aarhus won the Class 3A 103-pound Iowa state championship; moments later, McDonough won the 119-pound title, with a 4-3 win over current teammate Tyler Clark (Bettendorf).

Iowa is searching for its 38th straight home dual victory; action begins at 7 p.m. (CT).