Hawkeyes Don't Like to 'Cut It Close'

March 16, 2012

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.

ST. LOUIS — University of Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands addressed reporters after the second round of the NCAA Championships last night in the Scottrade Center. At the time he didn’t know how his Hawkeyes stood after Day One of what he called “a fist fight.”

During the initial day of mat action, he saw his marquee brawler, 125-pound junior Matt McDonough, register two falls and become the first of six Hawkeyes to advance to the quarterfinals. McDonough, the top seed, improved to 34-1 on the season with pins against Jared Germaine of Eastern Michigan and Trent Sprenkle of North Dakota State.

“They’re big,” Brands said of the falls. “The more you can flex your muscles like that, the better. McDonough is wrestling well. He’s a good catalyst, he’s a good sparkplug. We have to have more of that.”

Against Sprenkle, McDonough executed a left-handed headlock to end the bout and move on to a Saturday morning meeting against No. 8-seeded Ryan Mango of Stanford.

“You practice all these moves so you can go out there and effectively use your arsenal,” McDonough said. “I want to be dangerous every single second of the match. I want to be ready to score points, put a guy on his back and get a pin.”

McDonough will be the first UI wrestler in action this morning at 10 a.m. (CT). Brands is counting on the sparkplug making noise right away.

“He’s a gamer,” Brands said. “He’s done a good job for us over the years and he’s done a good job for us so far in this tournament.”

The other Hawkeyes still alive on the championship side of the bracket are Tony Ramos (133), Montell Marion (141), Derek St. John (157), Ethen Lofthouse (174) and Bobby Telford (285). Mike Evans (165) and Grant Gambrall (184) are in the consolations.

Marion defeated Mike Morales of West Virginia, 8-4, in the first round, and Mitchell Port of Edinboro, 6-1, in the second round. He will take on Cal-Poly’s Borislav Novachkov, a 2011 finalist, in a quarterfinal this morning.

“He has to let it fly every time,” Brands said of Marion.

Marion said he had a “good start” to the tournament yesterday. A highlight was against Port, where he continued attacking and finished a takedown late to win by five points.

“You’re supposed to put exclamation points on them,” Marion said. “That’s just putting a stamp on it.”

After two sessions, Iowa sits in fifth place with 26 points and six quarterfinalists. Penn State leads with 38 ½ points (seven quarterfinalists), followed by Minnesota (33, eight), Oklahoma State (28 ½, four) and Cornell (27 ½, four). More will shake out today.

Aside from McDonough winning by fall, the other Hawkeyes advanced to the quarterfinals by scores of 3-1, 6-1, 8-4, 5-3 and 4-1. Brands isn’t pleased with close results.

“I don’t like to live that way,” Brands said. “You can say we’re winning close matches, but it doesn’t have to be tight. It’s certainly not what we want.”

125 — No. 1 Matt McDonough (Iowa) vs. No. 8 Ryan Mango (Stanford)
133 — No. 3 Tony Ramos (Iowa) vs. No. 11 Steven Keith (Harvard)
141 — No. 3 Montell Marion (Iowa) vs. No. 6 Borislav Novachkov (Cal-Poly)
157 — No. 2 Derek St. John (Iowa) vs. No. 7 Dylan Alton (Penn State)
174 — No. 5 Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa) vs. No. 4 Logan Storley (Minnesota)
285 — No. 5 Bobby Telford (Iowa) vs. No. 4 Zachary Rey (Lehigh)