April 18, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
The approach has paid dividends for the Marion, Iowa, native. He is a two-time NCAA champion at 125 pounds and a three-time national finalist with a 100-4 career record. This weekend inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, McDonough knows he needs to step up his game.
"These are guys that are trying to compete on an international stage, guys that have finished college, or are still in college that have higher aspirations, just as I do," said McDonough, who was granted a wild card berth into the Trials. "I have to come out ready to go and there is no feeling out the waters. You have to jump right in and put yourself in a place to compete at the highest level."
McDonough has dreamt about being in this position since he began wrestling as a youngster, and now he is ready to seize his opportunity.
"When you're young and you have those dreams, they slowly become more reality and with each step I take, it is becoming more reality," he said. "Now it can't just be having a goal in mind, it has to be a mission. I am on a mission to do this, and I have to do whatever it takes to get there.
"We don't compete just to throw our hat in the ring; we compete to be the best, to be on top of the podium, and to do the very best of your ability every time out there."
McDonough and the six other former Iowa wrestlers competing in the Trials will have a home-mat advantage competing inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"It is definitely something that factors in, but it can't change how I wrestle," said McDonough, who has posted a 28-1 career record in the venue. "I have to be wrestling at the top of my game no matter where we're at. But hopefully it is going to help out and create that extra emotional environment that favors us."
For McDonough to reach his goal, he is going to have to go through a field that includes a pair of Olympic qualifiers. Henry Cejudo was the gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, while Spenser Mangon finished eighth at the 2008 Olympic Games, and ninth at the 2009 World Championships.
"I know there are some national champions, national world team members, and an Olympic champion that might be in the field," said McDonough. "There are some tough opponents, but that doesn't mean anything if you're the best and that's what you have to believe."
Prelims, quarterfinals and semifinals begin at 9 a.m. (CT) with finals starting at 6 p.m. (CT). Single-day and all-session tickets are available for purchase at iowacitytolondon.com, or over the phone at 800-424-2957. Single-day tickets are $40 for adults and $25 for children high school age and younger. All-session tickets cost $70 for adults and $40 for children high school age and younger.