U wrestlers earn reputation off mat

by Sarah Mitchell

Jacob Clark and Garrett Lowney are new to Minnesota’s wrestling program, both members of the Gophers top-ranked freshman class. But in their short time with the team, the redshirt grapplers already have a defined reputation.
“Beavis and Butthead. Spin and Morty. Bill and Ted. Laurel and Hardy,” Gophers coach J Robinson said. “Those four things could sum them up.”
Clark, from South St. Paul, and Lowney, from Appleton, Wis., first teamed up last summer on the evening before the finals at the Junior National Championships. Familiar with each other through a mutual friend, the soon-to-be teammates sneaked out of their adjacent hotels for a night on the town.
“I had to drop out my second floor window onto an air conditioner to escape because (the team) had guys sitting outside of my door,” said Clark, who was representing the Minnesota Storm. “They knew me very well and were probably afraid I’d do something like that.”
After evading security, Clark and Lowney set out to accomplish their mission.
“We went to the grocery store to pick up girls,” Lowney said. “We picked up the cashier.”
Nearly a year later, Clark and Lowney were reunited as college roommates. Not surprisingly, their antics haven’t stopped.
“We get pretty grumpy once in a while,” Lowney said. “But our room is really small and when you put guys that close. …”
“Especially when neither of us does our laundry,” Clark added.
The similarities go deeper than bad hygiene and their good natured personalities. A little more than a month ago, Clark and Lowney both broke a hand at the same tournament.
“I broke my right in the semifinals and he broke his left in the finals,” Lowney said. “He was wrestling and grabbing his hand in the finals and I was laughing at him and yelling, ‘Come on, that’s ain’t nothing.’ This was after I had already busted mine. He won and the next day he had it looked at and it was broken. Then I felt bad. I thought he was just being a baby.”
Wrestling through injury is reflective of how tough the two are on the mat.
As a three-time Wisconsin state champion, Lowney was ranked the No. 1 high school wrestler at heavyweight in the nation. Even more impressive, the prospective business major won three titles in freestyle and two in Greco-Roman at the Junior Nationals, becoming only the third wrestler in history to earn five titles.
Clark was a two-time state champion at South St. Paul High School. The 165-pounder went undefeated his senior year (24-0) and finished first in Greco at Junior Nationals.
But Clark said he would sacrifice his growing list of accomplishments for a chance to teach.
“I would retire right now if I could coach,” Clark said.
Lowney and Clark will get a glimpse from the top this summer. The grapplers have been asked to coach a program in Champlin Park.
“I’ll be able to control the kids,” Lowney said. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to control Jake. He’s always making stuff up. Like [when] he told all his friends back home that I have fuchsia sheets on my bed.”
After the summer, Clark and Lowney will return to the wrestling room, hoping to earn a spot in the starting lineup. Whenever this happens, Robinson had better be on guard during the road trips.
“We’ll behave more now. I have no plans of sneaking out through the window” Clark said. “This is serious.”