Photos: Three Golden Hawks finish first at Highland Tournament

By Jeff Yoder
Posted 1/13/21

This week, Vinnie Bowlin returned to the mat for the first time in over a month and won each of his four matches with a first-period pin. 

Three of those wins came during the Gary Curtis …

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Photos: Three Golden Hawks finish first at Highland Tournament

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This week, Vinnie Bowlin returned to the mat for the first time in over a month and won each of his four matches with a first-period pin. 

Three of those wins came during the Gary Curtis Invitational at Highland, where Cael Garvey and Josh Wallington each finished on top of the podium as well. 

Wilton’s Kaden Shirk got the first takedown in a finals match with Bowlin at 160 pounds, but Bowlin came back with a reversal and pin to stay unbeaten at 8-0. 

“I got out of position there, one thing led to another, I kept my head in it and then it was a breeze,” Bowlin said. Thursday’s match at Northeast was Bowlin’s first action since December 3. 

“I’ve gone through way too many injuries and it’s emotional, almost,” Bowlin said. “Just trying to get back and get back to your goals.

“After you come off an injury, you’re a little concerned about how you want to wrestle and stuff and going out there with three first-period falls... it’s a confidence booster. But you’ve just got to keep pushing, it’s all about the goal in the end.”

Bowlin was seeded fourth, entering Saturday’s tournament with just five matches under his belt. 

“I told them, don’t sleep on this kid,” Mid-Prairie coach Justin Garvey said about the seeding process. “You know, he’s tough. And he came out proved it today. He wrestled great all the way through that tournament.”

Bowlin had a quick takedown of the top seed Boden Koehler (10-3) of South Tama and picked up a win by fall in 1:29 in the semifinal round. 

Cael Garvey became Mid-Prairie’s second champ of the day with a second-period pin in the final at 195. Garvey got two takedowns in the first period and finished the match in 2:17. 

“I feel like I wrestled a lot better than I have the past couple weeks here,” he said. “I’ve been kind of in a slump. So it’s kind of nice being able to come here and win and not have to worry about anything for a while.”

With three pins, he improved to 17-3 for the season. Justin Garvey said that Cael is starting to hit his stride, “I think after coming off quarantine, he was a little bit flat and he lost a couple matches, but we’re starting to see Cael from last year a little bit. 

“He’s opening up and not worried about giving up a point here or there, he’s just going out and scoring.”

Josh Wallington improved to 23-1 with a 16-5 major decision over West Branch’s Logan  Wright in the final at 220. It was his third consecutive tournament championship.  

“He wrestled good all day, but he’s a little reserved,” Garvey said. “You see when he gets to his shots, nobody can stop those things. So let’s get to them earlier and more often.”

The most exciting finish of the day belonged to heavyweight Gannon Callahan in the third place match. Callahan gave up a takedown in each of the first two periods and trailed South Tama’s Rudy Papakee 4-2 heading into the third. Papakee chose bottom and after a 90-second stalemate, Callahan turned him and got the pin with 12 seconds left. 

“I think it’s just perseverance, he started turning that corner,” Garvey said. “He lost a tight semifinal match to a guy that was one match away from being a place winner at state in 3A last year. And then it was just staying the task at hand, you know, keep scoring points, keep wrestling. And once Gannon got him turned that kid wasn’t getting up.”

At 182 pounds, Ben Meader reached the final with a tech fall and a pin. He faced 2A No. 8 Brayden Smith in the final and was quickly put on his back. Meader scored a reversal, but Smith came back with a reversal and pin. 

“The losses he’s taken here recently have all been to state qualifiers and state place winners,” Garvey pointed out. “He wrestled great.”

Mose Yoder pinned his quarterfinal opponent and finished fourth at 113. Terry Bordenave went 2-2 with a pair of pins at 220. Evan Philips, Kaden Meader and Dominic McCain each won a match as well.

“Overall we had a good day,” Garvey said. “There are a couple matches early on in the day I wish we could have got back, I felt like we had some good matchups in the first rounds that some of our younger guys, but overall, I was real pleased. From 160 up, we wrestled really well all day.” 

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