DELHI — While some students were getting some extra sleep, working a few extra hours or taking a family vacation, Maquoketa Valley freshman Chance Downs and senior Alec McDowell were competing in the National High School Coaches Association wrestling tournament in Virginia Beach, Va.
Both found their way to the podium, earning All-American status.
Downs and McDowell finished eighth in their respective brackets at the event held March 24-26.
McDowell earned his invitation to participate in the tournament because of his first-place finish at the state tournament in February. His bracket was filled with 66 of the nation’s best 182-pound wrestlers in 12th grade.
Downs competed against other freshmen in the 145-pound bracket because of his seventh-place finish at the state tournament.
Over the three-day tournament, both athletes had seven matches and finished with 4-3 records.
“This is the toughest tournament in the nation,” McDowell said.
Both wrestlers had motives for attending.
“I wanted to travel and reach the next level of wrestling opponents,” Downs said. “I want to see what I can do nationally for my weight division and see how I rank and how I can improve.”
“I wanted to win, especially against guys from around the country, not just Iowa wrestlers,” he said. “Ultimately, it was for the experience and getting better.”
McDowell noted how wrestling styles vary throughout the country. Downs said wrestling against opponents from throughout the country was beneficial.
“I got to wrestle opponents with different styles from what I’m used to,” Downs said.
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Downs and McDowell described East Coast wrestlers’ style as “funky” because they don’t like to be as physical and they like to scramble.
Downs was able to travel with his father, and McDowell was accompanied by his mother, uncle and grandfather. Both wrestlers recognized how this trip was more than just about wrestling. They enjoyed traveling and spending time with their family and going to the beach.
This weekend, the two are wrestling at the USA Wrestling Folkstyle tournament in Cedar Falls. After that, they would like to take a break.
Will their quest for All-American status end there?
Downs said he’s going to keep improving and aims to win a national championship. McDowell plans to continue wrestling at college. He has not committed to a school yet.