Matt McDonough hasn’t stopped to think about his place in Iowa wrestling history. The senior doesn’t stop for much of anything.
“It’s been a heck of a lot of fun,” said McDonough, who will walk out on the mats today at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines with a chance to be just the seventh Hawkeye in program history to earn a third NCAA title.
Iowa coach Tom Brands is one of those three-timers, winning crowns from 1990-92.
“When you’re talking about the history of this program … the standards are high,” said Iowa coach Tom Brands, a three-time champion (1990-92). “You don’t look backwards, you look forward.”
Except McDonough, 120-7 in his career, has no choice but to look back. He is seeded third after a 10-4 loss at 125 pounds in the Big Ten finals to Jesse Delgado of Illinois twice— which led him to famously dump his second-place medal into a trash bin in Illinois’ Assembly Hall.
A photo of the medal sitting amid a pile of trash made its way onto social media, and soon national outlets picked it up.
“It was one of those things where, in the heat of the moment, sometimes you make rash decisions or do things with emotion,” McDonough said. “I don’t feel I needed to do that to blow off some steam … maybe I could have found better ways.”
Brands isn’t worried a lot about his senior’s ability to bounce back.
“I don’t know how low he was,” Brands said. “I know that he’s upset.
“I think he’s on a mission, but he has been on a mission.”
McDonough knows it’s his last college event. Reflection comes later.
McDonough opens with Ben Willeford of Cleveland State. If he keeps winning, he’d likely face Delgado in the semifinals and Missouri’s top-seeded Alan Waters in the finals.
No matter what happens, McDonough’s legacy won’t be tossed in the trash. He can become the 18th four-time all-American in Iowa history.
“It just that time of year,” McDonough said. “It’s time to rise to the occasion. It’s time to be a Saturday nighter. … I’m ready to go out there, put it all on the line.”