It all came down to the last match of the night on Friday.

The Wolverines sent out a redshirt freshman, 157-pounder Pat Owen. The capacity crowd at Cliff Keen Arena held its breath knowing that Owen was about to face Iowa”s top-ranked T.J. Williams. The score stood at 18-13 a 6-point pin by Williams would rescue the dual meet for the visiting Hawkeyes.

Owen was prepared.

“When they drew 165, I knew that I”d be last,” Owen said. “Judging from the last time, I knew that it would come down to the last match.”

It would not have come down to the last match, though, if Michigan”s 149-pounder, Mike Kulczycki, had pulled out his match against All-American Mike Zadick. The Wolverines would have taken a 21-10 lead and clinched a victory.

“I was hoping the dual wouldn”t all depend on my match,” Owen said.

When this became inevitable, he wrestled the top-ranked 157-pounder extremely tough, losing just 7-4.

“I just wanted to go out and compete and put myself in a position to win the match,” Owen said.

By pushing Williams to the limit, Owen displayed his excellent competitiveness. His coach, Joe McFarland, was not surprised by Owen”s performance.

“Pat is getting better by the week,” McFarland said. “He went out there and competed hard.”

Owen has faced greater pressure in his life. Minutes after he was born, Owen was in a cast with a clubbed foot that resulted in a deformed achilles tendon. He had numerous correctional surgeries from birth until he was seven-years-old.

“They thought I would never be able to run or jump or do anything of that sort,” Owen said.

Owen himself never had any doubt.

“It was really a motivating factor,” Owen said. “People told me I couldn”t do something, and I”d want to prove them wrong. I didn”t like listening to the doctors or my parents telling me to slow down.”

As a student-athlete at Polson (Mont.) High School, few things slowed Owen. He captured three state championships in wrestling while also achieving all-state honors in the high jump and pole vault for the track team. On the football field, the scrappy Owen led the team in tackles his senior season. Owen also achieved a 4.0 grade-point average en route to being named valedictorian.

Owen”s achievements caught the eye of McFarland, but his tale of toughness demonstrated something more promising.

“When I was recruiting Pat, his uncle told me that Pat is special because of all the adversity that he has overcome,” McFarland said. “He is a great student. Everything he does, he does 110 percent.”

Owen is just happy to be on the mat, not worrying about his birth defect. He looks forward to the challenges that wrestling brings.

“It makes you put things in perspective,” he said. “There are a lot more pressure situations than a match.”

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