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Dickinson State Blue Hawks senior heavyweight Trevor Conrad to finish out career in memory of Janae Moore

Trevor Conrad remembers the last conversation he ever had with one of his best friends -- it was pretty heavy. The Dickinson State wrestler and Janae Moore talked about life and death after all. But when Moore was killed in a car accident in the ...

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Dickinson State senior heavyweight Trevor Conrad, center, runs during the Blue Hawks’ practice on Jan. 21 at Weinbergen Hall on DSU’s campus. (Press Photo by Colton Pool)

Trevor Conrad remembers the last conversation he ever had with one of his best friends - it was pretty heavy.

The Dickinson State wrestler and Janae Moore talked about life and death after all.

But when Moore was killed in a car accident in the summer of 2013, the thought of quitting wrestling crossed Conrad’s mind.

But also in his mind was Moore’s voice - he said she would be “pretty ticked off” if he had given up.

So he kept on going. And it’s worked out for the better.

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Conrad will have a chance to keep his career going as he and the rest of the No. 15-ranked Blue Hawks enter the NAIA national qualifying tournament today in Marshall, Mo.

Conrad has known in the back of his head that his career would all be coming to an end.

But always at the front has been a lost friend, with her name and basketball playing number on his warm-up shirt - “Blue Hawks forever, Janae Moore No. 30.”

“I always say a little something to her before my matches,” Conrad said, “not to necessarily win every match, but I just thank her for being with me and giving me the chance to be her friend. I just ask her to go out there and be with me to have fun.

“That’s ultimately why we do sports, is to have fun.”

Conrad admitted that Moore and he were rivals in high school - and in fact “weren’t too fond of each other” - but quickly became friends while at DSU.

Moore was an all-Frontier Conference honorable mention player her sophomore year before the accident.

“It was definitely a low point in my life knowing that such a beautiful and athletic girl could be taken so soon,” Conrad sad. “It really makes you think how fragile life is, where anything could happen to anyone.”

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It’s been a long road for Conrad to even finish out his career with the team.

He planned on wrestling the year after Moore died for her, but he tore his meniscus in a light drill with another heavyweight and missed his entire third year of collegiate wrestling.

But he said he still wouldn’t trade away anything that happened to him - it’s made him who he is.

And now, in his final year of wrestling, Conrad has his sights set on the season’s finale.

“I could have quit after I blew out my knee. I could have quit after my best friend had passed,” Conrad said. “Fortunately, you just keep your head down and focus on the end goal. From Day 1 of coming into Dickinson State, I’ve wanted to be an all-American. No one is given the same opportunity, and some are more fortunate than others, but we have to each deal with deck of cards that we’re given and do the best with what we have. The last two years I’ve had have been my best two years of wrestling, and I wouldn’t trade this group of teammates for anything.”

Lane Oversen, a 184-pound junior, said Conrad has provided leadership, but also has just been there for the Blue Hawks.

“Trevor has been a guy who loves to welcome guys on the team and really helps the freshmen out,” Oversen said. “He’s been with the program and has helped guys transition to college. And for the guys that are there, he’s brought a positive attitude.”

DSU head coach Justin Schlecht said Conrad, who is a student-teacher preparing to graduate with an elementary education major, is mature and knows how to manage his time well.

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Conrad is teaching kids at day and wrestling by night. That, Schlecht said, is a sign of his dedication to his future.

Schlecht said Conrad would make a great coach someday, partly because he’s coachable himself.

After not wrestling heavyweight in high school, Schlecht said Conrad had to almost learn the sport all over again.

“He’s a guy that you can rely on and trust on,” Schlecht said. “He’s done a good job of being a leader. … They all look toward him.”

Conrad’s first two matches will be very important, Schlecht said, for him to end today on a high note.

Because Conrad’s strong suit, Schlecht said, is wearing down his opponents.

“Trevor has been a guys you can count on on the mat and off the mat,” Oversen said. “He’s really been a hard worker all season.”

Conrad said it’s been plenty of last firsts for him this season - last first practice, last first tournament, last first dual, etc. - but he’s just trying to take it all in stride.

But he’s also out to make a certain friend proud.

“Every week I try to go out wrestling like it’s my last match,” Conrad said. “I think about that before every match that nothing in this life is guaranteed, including wrestling teammates and your best friends you practice with every day, your wrestling improvement, or your next match coming up.

“Knowing that each match is a special opportunity and not everybody gets to do that, each match has a sense of urgency, and I’ll handle this weekend like just like I have every weekend: like it’s my last match, and I’m going to treat it like it could be.”

Related Topics: BLUE HAWKS
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