OMAHA, Neb. — The 2009-10 season might be over but University of Iowa’s Matt McDonough is just getting started.
He made it clear he isn’t content with just winning one title, but he did get that first one out of the way.
McDonough beat Andrew Long in a battle of red-shirt freshmen for the 125-pound championship at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships last night at the Qwest Center. His win was part of the Hawkeyes third straight NCAA team title.
“For starters, it’s not done. I have three more years of it,” McDonough said. “You can’t end on one championships or one match.
“It’s what I’ve worked for all season. “It’s a relieving thing to do, but I’m already looking ahead and I’m all ready to keep training and bettering myself.”
McDonough (37-1) used a takedown with 1:08 to go in the second period and an escape in the third for the 3-2 win, becoming the Hawkeyes’ first freshman NCAA champion since Lincoln McIlravy won the 142-pound title in 1993.
“You go out there dreaming of it when you’re little, getting on the mat,” McDonough said. “As you grow, it becomes more of a reality and a goal. Now that I’ve achieved it’s sort of unbelievable for the time being, but I’m sure it will set in.”
It was the fourth time McDonough and Long met this season with McDonough winning all four. The young duo produced flurries of action, including when McDonough dropped in on his shot and finishing for the decisive takedown. It was lower scoring than the previous meetings against Long (27-7).
“Maybe things become a little more tight in those high-level matches, competing for a championship,” McDonough said. “I was still trying to score. It’s just make everything optimum.”
He was focused on staying in good position but was aware of the clock. The final seconds were accompanied by some emotion.
“It’s a jolt of excitement,” McDonough said. “You just have to keep your cool and keep wrestling until that last whistle blows.”
As McDonough is starting, Iowa senior Jay Borschel (37-0) capped his career with a perfect season and a 6-2 win over previously unbeaten Mack Lewnes of Cornell in the 174-pound crown.
“It was hard and a lot of work, but it was worth it all,” Borschel said. “It wasn’t like I’m glad relieved that’s over with. Yeah, I’m happy.”
Lewnes hadn’t surrendered a takedown all season but Borschel scored two, including one with 1:53 left in the first for a 2-0 lead. He then rode Lewnes out.
He added the second in takedown in the third period, increasing his lead to 5-1 late. He hammered Lewnes from on top.
“One of my strengths, definitely, is on top,” Borschel said. “I’ve worked a lot there, to the point where I can ride everybody, to where they aren’t scoring any points and I’m getting that automatic point (for riding time). It’s almost like you’re walking into the match with a 2-0 lead. You get your escape, automatic, in your mind, and then add that riding time.”
Linn-Mar wrestling fans can cheer a little louder than everyone else, boasting 20 percent of the 2010 Division I champs. Borschel and McDonough were teammates for Doug Streicher’s 2005 Lions team. Borschel won his fourth title that year and McDonough earned a state medal before winning a three-time state champ.
“It says a lot about the coaching staff there, Borschel said. “They instilled a lot of hard work and determination, a never-give-up attitude. That’s what they’re all about — tough wrestling. The head coach came out of Iowa, he was an all-American, wrestled under (Dan) Gable, so he knows all about that. He was able to put that into (McDonough and I).”
Brent Metcalf capped his amazing college career with his second NCAA champion. Metcalf scored a takedown in the opening 20 seconds, adding 1:29 of riding time for a 3-2 win over Ohio State’s Lance Palmer.
The victory avenged a loss to Palmer at the Big Ten tournament and put Metcalf atop the weight class after a runner-up finish last year.
“It feels good,” Metcalf said. “It feels more like I’m redeeming myself from last year a little bit just because this is the national tournament and you can’t get back the Big Tens. You can’t back last year but you can feel better about it because you finished off the way you did.”
Scoring quickly and first was key for Metcalf, So was building 1:08 of riding time in the opening period and keeping pressure on Palmer.
“Me getting that is important,” Metcalf said. “And then me keeping him flat on the mat was important.”
Metcalf finished the season 36-1 and 108-3 in his career. He’s a three-time finalist, reaching in all three years he was eligible in competition.
He was a leader on a team that won three straight NCAA team titles and swept every competition the last two seasons. The team’s lone loss was a dual to Oklahoma State in January of 2008.
“There’s been something pretty special these last three years, what we’ve been able to put together as a team — just that one loss to Oklahoma State,” Metcalf said. “One loss. We don’t feel good about that (loss) at all, but you can still look back (at the body of work) and feel pretty good about it. I represented myself the way I wanted to represent myself, the way I wanted to represent our program. I’m proud of myself, and of our team.”
Senior Daniel Dennis (133) and sophomore Montell Marion (141) each earned runner-up finishes.
Dennis (22-4) lost a heartbreaker to Minnesota’s Jayson Ness, leading 4-2 with about five seconds to go when Ness rushed him scoring a takedown and catching him on his back for a 6-4 win. Ness was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler.
Cornell freshman Kyle Dake topped Marion (27-6), 7-3, scoring a takedown in the first and two nearfall in the second.
The Hawkeyes had eight All-Americans and won the school’s 23rd NCAA title. They posted a 39-13 record over the course of the whole tournament, tallying 134½ points. Cornell was second with 90.
Feelings were better compared to last year when they won a close team race without any individual champions.
“A lot more to be content about as far as feeling good that there was a good job done,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “There was a good job done over the last three days for sure.”
Iowa State crowned two champions, placing third in the team race with 75 points, 4½ more than Wisconsin, whose coach Barry Davis was named Coach of the Year.
Jake Varner became the Cyclones’ second four-time NCAA finalist, joining former coach Cael Sanderson. Varner faced rival Craig Brester of Nebraska for the 197-pound title.
Varner won another tight battle between the two, winning his second national title, 5-2. Varner got a takedown in the second off a front headlock and then added on late.
“That was a key point in the match,” Varner said of the first score adding “I knew he had to come after me and I was ready for it,” about the last takedown.
Varner finished 31-0 and 121-10 overall.
“It means a lot,” Varner said of the title. “Especially going undefeated like that.”
The Cyclones’ other top seed, David Zabriskie (26-2), won the heavyweight crown with a 3-2 win over Oklahoma State’s Jared Rosholt.
“That’s awesome,” Zabriskie of getting his hand raised. “That’s the best feeling in the world right there. Nothing compares.”
Photos by Brian Ray
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