McDonough taking on all challengers
Andy Hamilton ? Iowa City Press-Citizen ? January 15, 2010
Matt McDonough sent the text message one night this fall and the memo went flashing across the screen of Luke Eustice's mobile phone.
Eustice, Iowa wrestling's administrative assistant, is limited by NCAA rules to an occasional workout with the Hawkeyes. He was scheduled to make his monthly appearance on the mat the next day against McDonough when the former NCAA finalist opened his phone to receive this text from Iowa's 125-pounder:
Bring a lunch and a lantern because I'm going to work you all day and night.
This is McDonough -- swashbuckling and daring, unrelenting and willing to take on all challengers, no matter their credentials.
Eustice said McDonough calls out Iowa assistant Terry Brands every now and then, telling the two-time World champion he's going to "beat him within an inch of his life."
"You've got to have that meanness about you," McDonough said. "You want to wrestle some coach that you know can kick your ass, but you've got to have that confidence to think today's the day I'm going to go out there and take it to him. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen, but you have that confidence and that mentality and outlook, you're going to build yourself as a wrestler."
McDonough has built himself into one of the top wrestlers in the country at his weight class and into arguably the biggest individual story for top-ranked Hawkeyes to this point of the season. He's 19-0 and ranked fourth nationally going into Saturday night's showdown with Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
He hasn't gotten to this point by accident.
"People want an example of how to live a lifestyle, he's the example," Iowa coach Tom Brands said. "But he's also unassuming. It's not automatic for him, and he knows it's not automatic. That tends to make a guy want to get his butt in here and train."
McDonough has been winning more with guts than glitz, more with scrappiness than style. He fell behind in four of his last five matches. He spotted Iowa State's fifth-ranked Andrew Long three-point leads in each of their last two bouts and rallied to win both with late takedowns.
With less than a minute remaining in their most-recent match, McDonough was crunched up and on his butt with Long on the verge of running around behind him for the go-ahead takedown. McDonough continued to scramble until he came out of the flurry on top with the decisive score in a 9-8 win.
To this point, McDonough's opponents haven't been able to hold up for seven minutes against his constant torrent of activity.
"A lot of that comes into the training room where you're going in there and battling as hard as you can in every practice and then you're doing something extra and you're getting the edge," McDonough said. "Even if someone is working as hard as everyone in their room, are they working as hard as you? That's kind of the mentality you have to have. I'm doing everything I can and more to get that edge over the person, so that third period doesn't comes down to a lucky shot or this or that, it comes down to I'm ready to go and ready to battle."
Still, McDonough knows he needs work. He said his technical skills are maybe halfway to the level he wants to reach.
"I feel that I've got a lot more potential, and if I do things the right way, I can really be strong in those tough matches and be a lot stingier," he said. "But that fight that you've got to have and that mentality that I don't want to give up any points, I'm going to fight for everything, that's what takes the place of the technique. But (getting) the technique is the ultimate goal and having that so you can take it to everyone."