Photo by Theo Tate
The Granite City Wrestling Club had five wrestlers place at the Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation State Championships in March. They were (left to right) Jeffrey Tyler, Zander Johnson, Caleb Scott, Dawson Hawthorne and Reide Wilson.
Mike Dowdy couldn’t have asked for a better first season as head coach of the Granite City Wrestling Club.
GCWC had five wrestlers place at the Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation State Championships last month in Rockford. Reide Wilson placed second in the 166-pound senior division, Jeffrey Tyler finished sixth in the 147-pound senior division, Caleb Scott was fifth in the intermediate division, and Dawson Hawthorne and Zander Johnson finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the bantam division.
GCWC also finished in a five-way tie for 27th out of 175 teams with 34 points at the state tournament.
Dowdy credits Tank’s Training Facility in downtown Granite City for the team’s success. Tank’s is owned by Granite City graduate Chris Janek.
“We worked out a partnership with them,” Dowdy said. “When kids come to the club, they automatically can train there. We pay for them to train at Tank’s so they can go to Tank’s twice a week to get personal training as well as wrestling.”
Wilson and Tyler are both 8th-graders at Coolidge Junior High and plan to compete with the Granite City High wrestling team next year.
“They’ve been in the program for years,” Dowdy said. “They put in a lot of work.”
Wilson lost to Anthony Glauser of the Wrestling Factory — which is a club in Lake Forest — by technical fall in the state championship match. He had victories over Cesar Sanchez of Caravan Kids Wrestling Club, Santino Blanco of the Morton Little Mustangs, Tyson Heerman of T.J. Trained and Tyler McCracken of the Edwardsville Wrestling Club in the first four rounds.
“Reide making it to the finals was really cool,” Dowdy said. “He wrestled on a mat that was raised up and they take the two finalists and they put them on a mat and that’s raised up off the ground. It’s really a great accomplishment for him making it to the state finals.”
Tyler was pinned by Tommy Evans of the Wolves Wrestling Club in the fifth-place match.
Dowdy said he was pleased with Scott’s performance at state. Scott is a 4th-grader at Holy Family School.
“Caleb is our most skilled wrestler,” he said. “Caleb qualified for the IKWF state tournament. This is the toughest tournament. This is the Super Bowl of wrestling. Caleb bumped up in weight class and age group to qualify for state and he did qualify. So he’s in the top 24 in the state in a weight and age above him. But since he didn’t place, he was able to place in the intermediate championships and he went there and took fifth place.”
Dowdy said Johnson and Hawthorne competed against mostly 8-year-old wrestlers at the state tournament. Johnson goes to kindergarten at Mitchell Elementary and Hawthorne is a first grader at Maryville Elementary.
“Both of these guys bump up and wrestle older guys so they can have better matches,” Dowdy said. “They’re both 5 and 6 years old and they’re doing excellent.”
Dowdy took over the Granite City Wrestling Club this year after coaching the Coolidge Junior High wrestling team for nine years.
“I started with the Granite City Wrestling Club and it put me in a position to be successful with wrestling and in life,” Dowdy said. “I think wrestling helps you with everything you do in life. There’s no question. That’s what we try to tell them. The lessons you learn in wrestling and the hard work you put into wrestling will carry over into everything you do in life.”
The Granite City Wrestling Club is for wrestlers ages 4-14 and its season begins in November. Dowdy said the club prepares wrestlers for the high school level.
“We try to tell them that if this was any other town, if you work hard, great. If you don’t, no big deal,” Dowdy said. “This is Granite City with the winningest high school in the entire country. We have a tradition and a reputation to keep up, so we need them to work hard. We need them to be the ones who take on that responsibility and keep the tradition going at the high school.”
Dowdy graduated from GCHS in 2002. He finished with a 65-35 record in his four years with the Granite City wrestling team. In his senior year, Dowdy finished with 38 wins and earned all-Southwestern Conference honors at 160 and helped the Warriors finish with a 25-1 record.
For more information on the Granite City Wrestling Club, contact Dowdy at 407-7575.
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