DES MOINES, Iowa — Heading into Thursday's NCAA Tournament, redshirt freshman Jordan Conaway knew that this experience wouldn't be easy on him.
Conaway, who has flown under the national radar most of the season, came into the tournament with the 12th seed and a tough first round opponent in Vinny Delafave of Rutgers. The two matched up on Feb. 24 with Conaway registering an impressive 6-1 win.
“You still have to be consistent every match, not stopping and wrestling all three periods,” Conaway said.
Conaway said to prepare for the experience, he got tips from senior Quentin Wright, who has reached the finals in two straight seasons and boasts a 13-4 record in the NCAA Tournament.
“Sometimes a takedown can make or break a match depending on who you're wrestling,” he said of Wright's advice. “For me, even if I get taken down, I don't want to lose the match because of that.”
Facing Delafave in the first round, the redshirt freshman had to put all the advice given to him to the test. As one of the first matches of the day, Conaway battled hard and took the Scarlet Knight wrestler into sudden victory as each wrestler had an escape.
In the sudden victory session, Conaway looked to make his move on Delafave and almost made his move but Delafave countered and registered a takedown to eliminate the Penn State wrestler from the winners bracket.
In the consolation bracket, which has been described as a place no one wants to be due to the intensity of wrestlers being eliminated with their next loss and fighting for every team point, Conaway was again put to the test. With his tournament life on the line as he went into sudden victory against Dylan Hydar of Air Force, Conaway emerged with a takedown in the second sudden victory session.
The redshirt freshman will continue in the wrestleback portion of the bracket tomorrow as he attempts to finish in third place.
“My goal is to wear people out and keep wrestling the whole time,” Conaway said.