Wright Reflects on Career as Home Finale Approaches
Feb. 14, 2013
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Three All-America nods, 106 wins, and one individual national championship later, Wright now finds himself approaching his final home meet in a Penn State singlet, which will take place on Sunday when the Nittany Lions meet Rider.
Knowing that this will be the last time he will get to wrestle in front of the fans that he used to sit and cheer with, Wright admitted that he's been feeling a bit nostalgic.
"I've gotten to see the same people in the building for about the past 15 years," said Wright. "It's been great having the same people cheer me on for so long."
The interactions that Wright has had with the Nittany Lion faithful are definitely what he believes he will miss most about wrestling for Penn State.
From the grown men who enthusiastically shake his hand after victories to the wide-eyed kids who ask for his autograph and paint his name on their chests, Wright has come to view the team's supporters as a second family.
"Rec Hall has had such a great family atmosphere for me personally," said Wright. "Especially with the local fans who I've gotten to know really well."
Over the course of his decorated career, Wright has given the fans many great moments and victories to that they'll be sure to remember for years to come.
Many of those have taken place this season during Wright's blazing 22-0 start, including his pin of Wisconsin's Jackson Hein for his 100th career victory.
However, with his home finale just days away, Wright has found himself reflecting more on the early victories in his career, including his first ever Rec Hall appearance as a freshman, when he defeated Hofstra All-American Alton Lucas in a stunning upset.
"The biggest moments that will stick in my mind are whenever I won as a freshman," said Wright. "Beating the sixth ranked guy in my first match in Rec Hall is something I'll never forget."
Although he has enjoyed his own triumphs in front of the Rec Hall crowd, the moments that the former national champion feels will truly stick with him are the victories that he has witnessed his teammates achieve.
Having been in the lineup with so many other great wrestlers during his time at Penn State, Wright cannot imagine a more exciting feeling than cheering along with the crowd as one of his fellow Nittany Lions does something spectacular.
"I'm always going to remember the big wins I've watched other wrestlers get," said Wright. "From (Jordan) Conaway beating (Wisconsin's) Tyler Graff this year, to David Taylor and Ed Ruth whopping everyone since they were freshmen, most of my great memories from Rec Hall have come from the people around me."
Having grown from a raw 174-pound freshman to a 197-pound senior gunning for his second national championship, Wright finds it hard to express how much he has grown as a wrestler and a person during his time as at Penn State.
The experiences he has had with not just the fans, but also his coaches and teammates are what have made Wright the competitor he is today.
"Technically I've gotten much better working with the coaches but having the teammates I've had has been such a great experience," said Wright. "They're the best guys in the country and having that great support system is what makes Penn State wrestling one big family."
While it's been nice for Wright to reflect on his career with only one home match remaining, he knows his work isn't done yet.
"Our mindset right now is to go out and take it all," said Wright. "We're going to finish these last two dual meets and then go get the team national title so we're excited and feeling good."