Bowers thrives in attack mode

Wrestling: The Chesapeake-AA senior, with 108 career wins but no state title, is 18-0 this winter and on a mission.

High Schools

January 23, 2004|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Corey Bowers had his father jumping up and down, his mother crying and taking all kinds of photos, and he thought - maybe, just maybe - he saw a tear leak out of his older brother, Dale, on Saturday.

Enjoying his finest weekend of wrestling on the state's most challenging stage this season - the Mount Mat Madness Tournament at Goucher College - Bowers stormed through the richly-stocked 119-pound weight class.

Not until after he capped his work with a stunning, 27-second pin in the final of Rob Cooper, Owings Mills' defending Class 2A-1A state champ, did the Chesapeake-Anne Arundel senior show a hint of nerves. That was when the time came to announce the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.

With two National Prep champions and 11 state champs from Maryland, Delaware and Virginia among those to choose from, Bowers - a state runner-up as a junior - got the nod.

"My heart was pounding, and it was such a great moment for me," said Bowers, who is 18-0 this winter and is Maryland's top-ranked 119-pounder. "I'm just thinking, `Maybe I am that good; maybe I can be up there in the nation like a lot of these wrestlers are.' It was just an unbelievable feeling."

His weight class featured five of the top six wrestlers in Maryland. He methodically handled Mount St. Joseph's Bruce Dulski, a Private School state champ, with a 7-2 decision in the semifinals. So tough was the bracket the sixth-place finisher was another Private School state champ, Bryan Sanders, from DeMatha in Hyattsville.

To get through, Bowers displayed quick, rugged skills on his feet, dogged determination, but more than anything else, confidence that has grown during his four-year varsity career.

How else do you explain taking down Cooper in the opening seconds, letting him up and then going right back at him to get the quick pin?

"Going in," said Chesapeake coach Rex Miller, "we were looking at the weight class, and I said, `Corey, there's 10 guys that can win this tournament,' and he said `Nope, there's only one.' "

Owings Mills coach Guy Pritzker, who has watched Bowers hand Cooper three of his four career losses, was impressed.

"Corey doesn't seem to worry about anybody. You can see it on his face. He's just extremely confident that he's not going to lose," said Pritzker. "He just keeps the heat on, so unless you're wrestling your absolute best match, you're probably not going to get through the first period."

Bowers started wrestling when he was 4 years old in the Severna Park junior league program, quit to play basketball when he was 7, but returned to the mat a couple years later.

Always in attack mode, relying on speed and technique, he is in the mold of former Chesapeake standouts Jeff and Matt Eveleth - 2000 and 2002 grads, respectively, who together won five state titles. In Bowers' 18 wins this season - eight with pins - he has a staggering 61 takedowns.

"Before a match, I'll focus on everything I want to do. Then I want to go out there and try to hit a certain takedown, and if I do hit it, follow it with a certain tilt after," said Bowers, a first-team All-Metro wrestler last season. "If it doesn't work, I'll get back up and work another series. It gives me a lot more opportunities at different moves that I can hit."

One thing - the biggest - is missing from Bowers' resume. He has 108 wins and just 11 losses. He's won three Anne Arundel County crowns and, last year, his first region title. But a state crown has eluded him.

As a sophomore, he said he overlooked his first opponent, lost and had to work his way back in the loser's bracket to get third. Last season, he wrestled with a 103-degree fever and was edged 3-2 by a two-time state champ, Brandon Shapiro, from Winston Churchill in Potomac.

"I've got to get that done," said Bowers. "I think about it all the time. Just to be able to get out there in that state final again - just the feeling it brings - and to actually win it this time. When I start getting tired at practice, I'll think about that and push myself that much harder."

His brother Dale, who won a junior league state title in his wrestling days and has been instrumental in Corey's success as a mentor, would like nothing more than to get choked up again come state tournament time.

"I know how much it means to Corey," he said. "He's going with the game plan. He knows he can go with anybody, so he never goes into a match thinking he may lose. He's just very confident."

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