So Close Yet So Far

So Close Yet So Far

The wrestling team sent a sold-out Rec Hall crowd on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as they battled No.1 Minnesota on Sunday. Despite the high-hopes surrounding the final bout, Penn State fell short to a 16-17 loss.

When I say “rollercoaster ride of emotions,” as cliché as it might sound, it is the most accurate description– ask any fan in attendance. Penn State won five bouts and Minnesota won five bouts. Minnesota had two major decisions and Penn State had one major decision. The match came down to the final bout, junior Jordan Conaway needed to pin Gopher Ethan Lizak in order to clinch a Penn State victory.

But before it came to that ultimatum, let us go through the afternoon’s events… From the start Minnesota took charge of momentum with an early win in the 133 lbs. bout. Sophomore Jimmy Gulibon wrestled better than audiences saw last Sunday and held his ground better than most expected, especially for going up against one of the dominant Dardanes brothers. It was a tough 2-3 loss for us all.

Next redshirt freshman Kade Moss gave up a crushing major decision to the other Dardanes brother to put Minnesota up 0-7, but it was still early.

Sophomore Zack Beitz turned everything around. He came back from behind to tie the bout at 3-3 going into the third period. In the third, Beitz clinched the riding point before cutting the Gopher loose. Beitz then finished a low single takedown and turned Jake Short to his back for near fall points. The 9-4 victory sent the entire building to its feet in an uproar of cheers.

In a quick turn of events, powerhouse Gopher Dylan Ness won by major decision over redshirt freshman Cody Law followed by another Minnesota win at 165 lbs. Penn State down 3-14, the man, the myth, the legend, Matt Brown started up the comeback. In a thrilling 4-1 upset over Minnesota’s Logan Storley, Brown restored hopes of a win.

Penn State redshirt sophomore Matt McCutcheon lost the following match, but did the best he could to limit the damage to a decision win. Next, 197 lbs. junior Morgan McIntosh stepped up against No. 1 ranked Gopher Scott Schiller. With shot after shot, an official review for two points and a slide out of Schiller shoulder control, McIntosh walked away with a 7-4 win, making the team score 9-17.

Surprisingly enough, some serious action took place during the heavyweight match. Penn State’s Jimmy Lawson avoided two takedowns with two graceful somersaults, clinched a takedown of his own and made an escape to end the match 3-1.

Here is where minds started churning in the audience… with the team score standing at 12-17, could Jordan Conaway get the pin for the win?

Well, with about a minute left in the first period Conaway nearly did just that, he turned the Gopher to his back but couldn’t secure the pin. Conaway continued to up the score for bonus points but hit a bit of a lull in the second period. With seconds dwindling down in the third, the crowd started to put their jackets in acceptance of the loss. Then Conaway scored another takedown, heads turned as again he nearly got the pin, but time was up.

Fans wonder what could’ve, would’ve, should’ve happened if 157 lbs. senior Dylan Alton was in the lineup, if the officiating was… different, if Gulibon won that first bout. But in a post-match interview, coach Cael Sanderson puts it plain and simple, the team needs to finish their shots. Finish their shots and it would’ve been a different match.


133: MIN Chris Dardanes dec. PSU Jimmy Gulibon, 3-2
141: MIN Nick Dardanes maj. dec. PSU Kade Moss, 14-6

149: PSU Zack Beitz dec. MIN Jake Short, 9-4
157: MIN Dylan Ness maj. dec. PSU Cody Law, 9-1
165: MIN Nick Wanzek dec. PSU Garett Hammond, 8-4
174: PSU Matt Brown dec. MIN Logan Storley, 4-1
184: MIN Brett Pfarr dec. PSU Matt McCutcheon, 11-5
197: PSU Morgan McIntosh dec. MIN Scott Schiller, 7-4
285: PSU Jimmy Lawson dec. MIN Michael Kroells, 3-1
125: PSU Jordan Conaway maj. dec. MIN Ethan Lizak, 13-3

(All statistics courtesy of