ST. LOUIS (U of I) — University of Iowa junior Matt McDonough won the 2012 NCAA title Saturday night with a 4-1 decision over Penn State’s Nico Megaludis in the 125-pound NCAA finals. The national title is the second of McDonough’s career. He won the championship as a freshman in 2010 and finished runner-up last season.
Senior Montell Marion and sophomore Derek St. John each earned runner-up finishes after dropping a pair of decisions in the 141- and 157-pound finals.
McDonough, who has reached the NCAA finals in each of the last three years, wrestled through a scoreless first period before jumping on the board with a second-period escape. Leading 1-0 entering the third frame, McDonough surrendered a third period escape with 1:27 left in match. He then finished a single leg attack to grab a 3-1 lead before riding the Nittany Lion until the final whistle to pick up a riding time point (1:39) and earn the final 4-1 decision.
The championship victory was the 100th victory of McDonough’s career. He owns a 100-4 career record and became the 22nd wrestler in school history to win at least two NCAA titles. Only six Hawkeyes have ever won three national titles.
“That thought crossed my mind today, you know, how are you going to make your legacy, how are you going to set your mark in the program,” McDonough said. “I was a one timer, three time finalist. That’s good, but I want to be in that group that keeps getting smaller and smaller, and that three time NCAA championship group is even smaller. Just like I said my freshman year, moving on to the next thing. It’s not over yet. I’m not done yet. I’ve still got a year left. I’m moving forward from right now on.”
Marion battled to a 4-4 draw in regulation before surrendering the deciding takedown 23 seconds into overtime. Marion trailed 3-1 early in the second period before knotting the score 3-3 with 1:18 into the frame. Russell escaped and took a 4-3 advantage into the third frame before Marion battled back again and tied the match 4-4 with an escape at the 1:05 mark. The score remained tied 4-4 until Russell countered a Marion shot with a takedown in the sudden victory period to win 6-4.
Marion finishes his Hawkeye career as a three-time All-American and two-time NCAA runner-up. He owns a 91-21 career record.
St. John dropped a 4-1 decision to three-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake in the 157-pound finals. Dake scored an early takedown, a second period escape, added a point for riding time and allowed a point for stalling to earn the title.
St. John finishes the season with a 21-3 overall record, a Big Ten title and his second All-America honor in as many seasons.
The Hawkeyes finished third in the team race with 107.5 points. Penn State won its second straight NCAA title with 143 points. Minnesota finished second (117.5), and Cornell (102.5) and Ohio State (68.5) rounded out the top five. A record 112,393 people attended this year’s wrestling championships. A single-session record 18,919 attended tonight’s finals. The 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships will be hosted by Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
Iowa finished the season with six All-Americans and two Big Ten champions.