Senior Night draws nostalgia from wrestlers


Friday night, Dan Osterman lost the final regular-season match of his Spartan career.

On a night that could have been filled with remorse, he wanted nothing more than to cheer on his brothers one more time.

But he wasn’t the only one cheering that night.

Every time Osterman took the mat, a young boy rose from the stands to cheer as loud as he could for the senior.

His 5-year-old nephew Trae Fields has been at nearly every match this season, and Osterman said the two have a special relationship.

“That’s my little coach,” he said. “My junior year of high school he was born, and him and his mom, my sister, lived in our house. Every morning, I would come home for lunch and I would spend time with him. I’m sure he took my loss harder than I did.”

The 149-pounder has made two trips to the NCAA Championships, and looks to return one last time.

For Osterman and two other Spartan wrestlers, the band of brothers on the MSU wrestling team always will be intact.

He, along with senior 157-pounder David Cheza and junior 133-pounder Chris Lyon, were honored before the Spartans 27-10 loss to No. 10 Central Michigan on Friday night.

Cheza was granted a sixth year of eligibility after suffering a shoulder injury last year, but his extra season was cut short when his shoulder gave out again.

Lyon has played a backup role for his three years on the team, but has been a great student and someone the team always could count on.

Osterman lost his match 3-2 on senior night, but said he tried not to linger on his loss because he wanted to be there for his team.

“I had a hard time dwelling on my loss because I knew it was my last time with my teammates, I wanted to be there with them all the time,” Osterman said. “You really couldn’t even tell I lost my match. I was right on the side of the mat cheering them on the entire time.”

Lyon, who is graduating a year early, said though he won’t get his name on the wall of the wrestling room, he still has a lot to take from his time as a Spartan wrestler.

“These guys are like brothers to me now,” Lyon said. “Our record doesn’t show it, but we’ve done a lot of great things. You don’t get to see what goes behind all the hard work, but it’s amazing. I can’t even describe it.”

Lyon’s twin brother Brenan still is on the team, so he said the coaches are going to have to do their best to keep him out of the wrestling room in the future.

Head coach Tom Minkel said unlike other sports where wins and losses mean everything, wrestling is an intimate, personal sport that he hopes changes lives off the mat as well.

“Because wrestling is so hard, and it’s so individual, and you’re so exposed, the challenge (is) it really tests you as a man and as a person,” Minkel said. “All those things that are really important, you go back to wrestling, and the lessons you learn from when you were out there and you had to face the chaos.”

Minkel said the graduating trio gave a lot to MSU and the program, and even though Osterman was the only one who wrestled the majority of the season, they were all extremely valuable.

“It’s hard to see these kids graduate,” he said. “At the same time you’re excited because they’ve got a bright future after Michigan State. I’m enormously proud of them, and it’s been nice to be a part of their college experience.”

For Lyon, the hardest part of senior night was going up on stage and saying goodbye to his teammates who have turned into his brothers.

“As a kid you always dream what collegiate wrestling is going to be like, and you imagine competing, but there’s so much more to it,” he said. “It’s pretty much a dream come true.”

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