McDonough takes assistant coaching position at Wisconsin

Matt Levins

Matt McDonough will always be an Iowa Hawkeye at heart, but starting Monday he officially became a member of the University of Wisconsin wrestling coaching staff.

McDonough on Saturday accepted a position as an assistant coach on new head coach Chris Bono's staff. He will join longtime friend and former Iowa State All-American Jon Reader on the Badgers' staff.

Bono, a former NCAA champion for Iowa State, accepted the head coaching job with the Badgers March, succeeding former Iowa national champion Barry Davis, who stepped down after 25 years at the helm.

For McDonough, who spent much of the last five years competing internationally and training with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, it was just a natural progression and another step to where he ultimately wants to be.

"I am excited about getting the opportunity to work with college guys at another Big Ten school and the chance to train Big Ten champions," McDonough said during a phone interview Monday afternoon between meetings in Madison, Wisconsin. "It's a great opportunity for me to coach at another Big Ten school which has a lot of history, tradition and passion for wrestling. It was a great opportunity for me so I took the plunge."

McDonough had a stellar career at Iowa, racking up over 100 wins, including national championships in 2010 and 2012 and Big Ten titles in 2010 and 2011, wrestling at 125 pounds for four years. He was a three-time All-American and in 2010 was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He was won a World Championship in 2014. He was a three-time state champion at Linn-Mar High School, where he fashioned a 151-15 record in four years.

McDonough is the second assistant coach to join Bono's staff. He will be reunited with Reader, whom McDonough got to know on the international circuit. It was Reader who helped get McDonough the opportunity to join the Badgers.

"I got a call from Bono last Saturday," McDonough said. "I don't know Chris that well, but I've known Reader for a long time and we got to know each other on some of the trips we took. They are good people. I came up here for a visit and they told me they were interested in bringing me up here."

McDonough, who began his duties on Monday, including a practice session, said his duties will include training the college athletes on a daily basis to become national, world and Olympic champions.

"I will do everything an assistant coach does and a head coach does," McDonough said. "Working with guys in the room is second to none. We will bring in the highest-level talent to build our program and bring some excitement and passion to Wisconsin wrestling. I'm going to put guys through practice. I have a practice session this afternoon. We are not waiting. We are going to start training the guys right away."

McDonough said that while his days as a competitor are over, he is ready to help the Wisconsin wrestler pursue and attain the same goals he had. And no matter what, he will always be an Iowa Hawkeye at heart.

"I haven't compete at the national level for a while, so the next best thing is to train guys and coach them to be national, world and even Olympic champions," McDonough said. "I was blessed to be at Iowa. There aren't may better places, if any, as far as history, tradition and passion in all sports, really. I just have to thank all my mentors at Iowa and all the family and friends at Iowa. I was blessed to be around such great people who gave me the experience and tools to be able to coach wrestling and continue to grow the sport of wrestling."