Iowa's McDonough becomes 'coach' for rare day off

McDonough gets a day off and said he is ready to "march into March"

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IOWA CITY - Matt McDonough said he is just fine.

Actually, he claims to be even better than that following last weekend.

"I feel great, right now," the University of Iowa's top-ranked 125-pound senior said. "I had a match and took the day off Sunday, helped (Hawkeyes head coach Tom) Brands coach.

"(I'm) getting ready now to hit the ground running all the way to March. March into March."

McDonough's absence from fourth-ranked Iowa's lineup for its 29-9 win over Purdue on Sunday raised some eyebrows. It was less than 48 hours after McDonough improved to 9-0 Friday with a 10-5 win over then-No. 12 ranked Nikko Triggas in the Hawkeyes' 22-9 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

McDonough, who won a class 3A 130-pound state title as a senior at Linn-Mar and wrestled 133 as a freshman, is a big 125-pounder. He said his weight is not a bigger challenge than any other wrestler.

"I don't think there's anything that has held me back with my weight," McDonough said. "It's a matter of figuring out your body and getting it to run optimally, and going ahead from there."

Brands addressed McDonough's day off Sunday, noting that it simply was a day off, noting it has been done previously with wrestlers. He said McDonough remained active but chose not to have him compete. Sophomore Matt Gurule stepped in, dropping a decision to 17th-ranked Camden Eppert.

"He did some work (Sunday) morning and (Saturday)," Brands said after the Purdue dual. "He was on track, and we just didn't have him weigh in. It was a day off. We've done that before in the past."

McDonough extended his current win streak to 37 Friday, giving him a career mark of 109-4, which is good for fourth in Iowa history with a .965-winning percentage. He is also five pins away from tying former Hawkeye two-time NCAA champion Chuck Yagla for 10th on the all-time list with 44 career pins. The statistics took a backseat to what would benefit him more while focusing on a third NCAA title and a fourth trip to the national finals.

"I think it's a good thing," McDonough said. "It is what it is. It's what I needed at the time. It gives me that opportunity to move forward from here and go at it with an iron fist."

The time spent in the corner instead of in the circle opened McDonough's eyes a bit. He identified some things he can apply to his own performances.

"You see a lot of things, absolutely, that you maybe wouldn't see if you were wrestling," McDonough said. "Just noticing the pace and how a higher pace really does favor you as a wrestler, watching difference matches and seeing how different paces generate scoring opportunities."

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