Senior Foley Dowd felt at ease before yesterday’s
wrestling meet, his last in Ann Arbor.

Maybe he felt that way because the coaches and fans honored the
five departing seniors before their last home meet. Maybe it was
because Dowd’s parents were in town from New Jersey to see
him compete one last time at Cliff Keen Arena. Maybe he felt that
way because he has never lost a match at home since his freshman
year.

Or maybe that’s just how Dowd, ranked second nationally,
prepares himself before every meet. If it is, it sure works.

Dowd stepped off his home mat victorious for the last time
yesterday when he destroyed Wisconsin’s Ed Gutnik 10-1. The
No. 3 Wolverines went on to defeat the No. 12 Badgers 24-16.
Michigan also defeated Indiana 22-12 on Friday in Bloomington.

“It’s pretty emotional,” Dowd said about
wrestling for his last time at home. “But actually this is
the calmest I’ve ever felt. Usually, everyone gets a little
nervous before their match. But I just felt really at home and
relaxed and calm. It really allowed for me to enjoy my last match.
My parents, my girlfriend, all my friends are here —
they’re all here to watch me wrestle and win my last match
here.”

McFarland elaborated on Dowd’s preparation methods:
“Foley is like that; he likes to calm down and relax before
he competes, and that’s when I think he is at his
best.”

Fellow senior Pat Owen, ranked fourth nationally, also left Ann
Arbor on top, literally, when he scored a three-point near fall in
the first period and almost garnered his 11th pin of the season.
Even though Owen couldn’t quite earn the fall, he scored a
major decision in his 15-4 victory over the Badgers’ Chad
Steldt.

In the final match of the afternoon, the last remaining senior
starter, Clark Forward, tried to make it 3-for-3 for the graduating
group.

Wisconsin’s Tyler Laudon held a 3-2 advantage over the
senior with only a few seconds remaining. Forward shot and almost
landed the winning takedown, but Laudon kicked out as the last
second ticked off the clock.

“Clark wrestled his heart out and did his best to
win,” Dowd said.

McFarland agreed, adding: “Everyone in the arena was
pulling for him to win that match. I know it’s disappointing,
but he’s done a great job.”

The crowd was also pulling for Nick Roy during the
freshman’s match-up against Wisconsin’s tenth-ranked
Ralph DeNisco. For most of the season, Roy had been battling with
fellow Wolverine R.J. Boudro for the starting spot on
Michigan’s roster at 174 pounds. But Roy might have ended the
debate yesterday when he prevented DeNisco from escaping at the end
of the third period to ensure a 2-1 victory.

“I just wanted to get a win,” Roy said.
“I’ve been losing a lot of close matches to top-ranked
guys. It’s great to get a win, work hard, and see
improvements.”

McFarland hopes all the underclassmen share Roy’s work
ethic and someday become the leaders that the seniors are
today.

“I can’t say enough about my seniors,”
McFarland said. “I’m real proud of them and how
they’ve done in and out of their classrooms. They’re
all great student athletes: they do well in school, they’re
good kids and they work. These are the kind of kids we want to
bring through the program and represent Michigan well.”

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