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Lion starters lean on role players

Mar 2nd, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK The five of them wont step on the mat for a match this weekend and none have a chance of capturing an individual championship.

But that doesnt mean the quintet of Nittany Lion backups wont have an impact on the No. 2 Nittany Lions quest to win a second consecutive Big Ten team

wrestling title in West Lafayette, Ind.

Should the Nittany Lions repeat as

champs, well, Andrew Alton, Matt Brown, Jordan Conaway, Dirk Cowburn and Clay Steadman will have had a direct hand in their efforts as all five will make the trip in order to push their competing teammates.

Theyre still part of the team, and their actions and the attitude that they bring with us and they bring to practice every day is critical, coach Cael Sanderson said. Its not easy... (when) youre trying to figure out who to take.

Sanderson and his staff had a good idea earlier this week of which extras the team would take on its trip to Indiana. Brown, who completed a stellar redshirt-freshman season with a 27-2 record and a runner-up finish at the National Collegiate Open last weekend, was a no-brainer for Sanderson.

Brown has been a reliable backup all year, filling it at 174 to 197 pounds for the Lions in duals and compiling an undefeated dual-meet mark in dominant fashion normally reserved for a starter.

The others, however, have found success in the background and, in Steadmans case, off the mat entirely.

Hes one of the guys were taking because hes a positive, happy, fun guy and thats what we want, Sanderson said of Steadman, whos missed the last two years of his career after injuries have kept him off the mat. We want him around our team. Itd be nice to have somebody that could drill and warm them up, but attitude is more important than that at this point to us.

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Lion starters lean on role players

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