University of Iowa’s top-ranked 125-pounder Matt McDonough was honored by the Big Ten Conference on Tuesday.
McDonough, a two-time NCAA champion and three-time national finalist, went 3-0 during the Hawkeyes season-opening duals Friday, Nov. 16, at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week for the third time in his career.
McDonough defeated two opponents ranked in the top 1o, including one by fall, and pinned a third, as the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes beat Cumberland (Tenn.), 52-0, #17 Virginia, 26-12, and UTC, 37-6.
McDonough scored a 9-4 decision over the Cavaliers’ fifth-ranked Matt Snyder before capping the day with first-period pin against No. 9 Nick Soto of UTC.
“I had a few good matches,” McDonough said before Tuesday’s practice at the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “There’s a lot of good things I can take away from all three of the matches I had, and there’s definitely things I need to work on.”
The opening competition provides a good gauge on where a wrestler’s progress is at the beginning of the season.
“You get that barometer of what you need to focus on, on what you need to do to improve yourself to get to the level you need to be at to finish the season on top,” McDonough said. “Also, it gets you fired up.”
McDonough said the Hawkeyes had some positives, but they had more to give, overall.
“I think that it was a good showing as a group in that we had some challenges, we had some tough opponents,” McDonough said. “There were a lot of ranked opponents we had for our first competition out and for the most part we answered those challenges, but there’s an importance of improving and widening that gap that I think we definitely need to start doing to a greater extent.”
The Hawkeyes return to action Saturday, hosting Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Cornell College and Iowa Central Community College for the Iowa City Duals at CHA, beginning at 9 a.m.