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Conaway's Improbable Comeback Highlights Victory

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By Matt Allibone,, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Heading into the third period of the 133-pound match of Friday night's Penn State-Wisconsin wrestling meet, Jordan Conaway knew he had his work cut out for him.

8488007.jpegGoing up against third ranked Tyler Graff, the Penn State freshmen had battled hard for two periods, yet trailed on the scoreboard 7-3.

"Going into that final period I knew I had some work to do," said Conaway. "I could tell he was getting tired though so I just tried to keep the pressure on."

Conaway certainly did that, quickly notching an escape that set the stage for an incredibly dramatic final minute.

After taking Graff down to cut the score to 7-6, Conaway allowed one escape before notching a second takedown to send the match into overtime with the score tied 8-8.

"Towards the end I could feel him slowing down,' said Conaway. "I started to get some emotion going and the takedowns started coming easier.

Once in overtime, Conaway barely needed a minute to produce another takedown to win 10-8 in sudden death, sending the home crowd into a frenzy in what turned out to be the signature victory in the Nittany Lions 36-6 win.

The Rec Hall faithful, who set a season high attendance with 6,515 fans, continuously raised the decibel level throughout Conaway's match, something he admitted helped him in the third period.

"It really helps knowing that the fans are behind me and pushing me," said Conaway.  "They really helped me pick up the pace and control the match."

Junior David Taylor also expressed his admiration for the fans and how they were able to impact Conaway.

"You really understand how great of fans we have when you get a match like that," said Taylor. "To be down with thirty seconds left and to still have everyone in the building believing he was going to win shows how encouraging our fans are."

Matching the excitement of the crowd during the final period were Conaway's teammates, who were all on their feet during the third period and overtime.

After Conaway returned to the bench, the Nittany Lions wasted no time mobbing him in celebration.

"That's probably the biggest win of his career and one of the biggest wins I've ever seen here in Rec Hall," said Taylor. "It's a huge confidence boost and I'm really happy for him."

Senior Quentin Wright, who notched his 100th career victory during the meet, also said that he could not be happier for Conaway.

Wright also stated that he hopes Conaway will take the time to realize how significant the win was for him.

"It's so special because he just created a memory with over 6,000 people that they will hold onto for the rest of their lives," said Wright. "I'll be sitting around one day down the road reliving the moment I saw Jordan Conaway win this match in Rec Hall.'

Along with creating a special moment, Conaway's teammates believe this win defines who he is as both a wrestler and a person.

"It's really a testament to the person that he is," said Wright. "He really has a never say die attitude.

Joining Wright in admiration of Conaway was head coach Cael Sanderson, who seemed thrilled with the freshman's performance. 

Sanderson praised Conaway's desire and will to win, while adding that he was not surprised to see him pull off such a big upset.

"Jordan's one of those guys whose just so special to the team," said Sanderson. "He's very consistent and he always gives it his best effort."

Conaway, who punctuated the win with a euphoric fist pump, called the victory maybe the biggest of his career.

"That win might be at the top," said Conaway. "It was awesome and it's definitely up there."

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