Four seniors will come out of the tunnel tonight in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and take the mat for the last time as Hawkeyes.
Expect the applause to linger for Matt McDonough, who has won two NCAA titles over the past three seasons.
“Here’s the thing,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “He stands out because of his credentials. He is an example of how to work and use desire to get on top of the stand.”
McDonough comes into tonight’s dual with a 115-5 career record. His .958 winning percentage ranks him fourth all-time, behind only T.J. Williams, Brent Metcalf and Lincoln McIlravy — and just ahead of Tom and Terry Brands.
“I’ve looked at it, and seen it,” McDonough said of his career mark. “It just motivates me even more to just try to go out there and wrestle like a madman every single match.
“Hopefully I can look back when I’m finished as a college wrestler. Until it’s over with, it’s just a possibility. I have to make it a reality.”
For Brands, what McDonough’s career has meant this far is simple.
“He’s done a lot of winning; he’s done what he’s supposed to,” Brands said. “He’s shown a great commitment, now let’s keep a good thing going here.”
No. 2 Iowa (18-1) welcomes No. 15 Edinboro (9-4) for a little extra dual action. It is the first meeting of the teams since 2001.
Brands said Iowa just wanted an additional date before the NWCA National Duals on Feb. 23 in Minneapolis.
“We went and looked for another team to come in,” Brands said. “We looked for an East Coast team.”
Iowa will visit Edinboro next year during an East Coast swing.
The Fighting Scots bring some highly-ranked wrestlers to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. No. 3 A.J. Schopp will provide a big test for No. 2 Tony Ramos at 133 pounds.
No. 5 Mitchell Port (141), No. 16 Dave Habat (149) and No. 20 Ernest James (285) are other ranked Edinboro wrestlers.
In addition to McDonough, Iowa seniors Grant Gambrall, Mark Ballweg and Jeret Chiri will be honored after the dual.
“Everybody is a role model,” Brands said. “McDonough’s career has been more sparkly. It hasn’t been easy for the other three guys. They’ve all faced different kinds of adversity.”
Brands would like to see the fans come and say goodbye to these wrestlers. Iowa also can break an attendance record with a big crowd.
If Iowa has 8,832 fans tonight, the season average would be 9,015 and break the mark set last year (9,014).
It is also promoted as red, white and blue night for fans to show support for Olympic wrestling.
“See them off,” Brands said. “It’s the last time McDonough will wrestle in Carver-Hawkeye Arena as a collegiate wrestler. That’s when it hits you. It’s about wearing a black-and-gold singlet in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.”
McDonough isn’t sure how he’ll react.
“At this point I’m looking at it as another match; another dual meet; another chance to step on the mat,” McDonough said. “But it’ll kind of be while you’re in the moment … hard to imagine never wrestling in my home arena again.”