Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hawkeyes snare Linn-Mar recruit

By Andy Hamilton
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Three schools gave Matt McDonough a scholarship offer, an opportunity to wrestle in the Big Ten and the chance to learn under a Dan Gable apprentice.

But only Iowa gave McDonough the opportunity to follow his heart.

McDonough, whose credentials include two state titles, a Cadet freestyle national title and a 112-15 career record, verbally committed to the Hawkeyes on Friday night after an extensive process in which the Linn-Mar senior wavered between Iowa, Northwestern and Wisconsin.

"When it came down to the very end, I tried picturing myself wrestling for a team, and I couldn't picture myself wrestling in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, unless it was as a Hawkeye," McDonough said.

"My heart and soul has been with the Hawks ever since I was young, and I wanted to be a Hawkeye my whole life. I had three great schools, three great opportunities and everything came back to Iowa and my love for wrestling and where I want to continue for five more years."

McDonough, projected as a 141-pounder in college, is ranked the No. 14 recruit in the country by InterMat. His decision gives the Hawkeyes commitments from five of InterMat's top 46 recruits, three of the top 14 and four of the top five prospects in Iowa.

The Hawkeyes also secured commitments from West High state champions Nate Moore and Grant Gambrall, Waverly-Shell Rock state champion Mark Ballweg and Illinois state champion Jordan Blanton.

"I'm probably going into one of the most hard-working rooms in the country," McDonough said. "I've got endless workout partners and people to help me train to be a national champion, a great coaching staff and they've all got real high aspirations."

McDonough visited Wiscon-sin and started to picture himself wrestling for former Hawkeye Barry Davis. He visited Northwestern and began to envision himself learning from former Hawkeye Tim Cysewski. He put on an Iowa cap and imagined himself wrestling for former Hawkeye and current Iowa coach Tom Brands.

"It was probably the biggest decision of my life, and it sure wasn't an easy one," said McDonough, whose father, Mike, was teammates with Cysewski at Iowa. "I love coach Davis, I love coach Cysewski. It's been a close run ever since I started with day one of the recruiting business. It just came down to what I followed my whole life.

"Seeing the Iowa stuff in my drawers and at school and everywhere, it reminded me of how much I've always loved Iowa and how big of a decision it was and what it would be like to wrestle in that room everyday. That was a big factor."

Nevertheless, McDonough said he was torn all week between Iowa and Northwestern. He said he woke up thinking one thing Friday morning, spent the whole day thinking about the decision, changed his mind and came back to the school he's been with all along.

Reach Andy Hamilton at 339-7368 or