After a shaky start Monday, the special series for the 125.5-pound spot on the University World Team was all Matt McDonough.
And now the lightweight spots on three American freestyle teams are all Iowa’s.
McDonough blasted Cornell star Nahshon Garrett in the best-of-three series in Tempe, Ariz., handling the only wrestler who bounced the two-time NCAA champion into a consolation bracket during his career with the Hawkeyes.
Garrett upset McDonough, then a senior at Iowa, during the 2013 NCAA quarterfinals and held an early upper hand Monday. Garrett led 8-2 in the opening period of the first match before McDonough rallied in the final minute with a takedown and two turns that solidified a 16-10 victory. McDonough controlled the second bout 15-5.
“You can’t ever panic when you’re down because no matter what, it doesn’t stop until the ref blows the whistle and calls the match over,” McDonough said. “That being said, there’s definitely a heightened sense of alert when you’re down by a considerable margin in freestyle. But regardless, you’ve got to always be thinking ahead.”
The next step for McDonough comes in July in Hungary when he competes at the University World Championships. He’ll kick off a busy international schedule for the lightweights who train out of the Iowa room.
Thomas Gilman, who will be a sophomore next season for the Hawkeyes, claimed the 121-pound spot on the FILA Junior World Team, and 2014 NCAA champion Tony Ramos won the Senior World Team Trials in May at 125.5.
“Look at the people in the room,” McDonough said. “Look at the mentality, the mindset and the drive of the guys in the room at that weight class and I don’t think it’s any surprise that you have a lot of people who want to be the best.
“There’s a lot of guys who are motivated and for the most part train the right way and have the right mindset for the sport. When you have that going, it can create a pretty solid environment for getting better. It sucks to have someone like Tony Ramos at my weight class and in a few years I’ll have Thomas Gilman in my weight class, but even though it may suck (to potentially compete against them) it’s a good problem to have because there are training partners and there are people with the same goals as you.”