Young Lowney pins down collegiate and career goals

Brian Hall

Last season Garrett Lowney filled the large shoes left behind by the departure of two-time All-American and NCAA heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

As a redshirt freshman, Lowney earned his first All-America honor to continue the tradition of excellence among heavyweight wrestlers at the University. The tradition began with three-time All-American Billy Pierce and continued with two-time All-Americans Shelton Benjamin and Lesnar.

“I don’t want to follow in the others’ footsteps,” Lowney said. “I want to make my own mark.”

Making his mark is something Lowney seems destined to do. Already an Olympic bronze medalist and U.S. National Champion, he will compete at the 2001 World Championships in New York City. He earned a spot on the U.S. team by winning the Greco-Roman title at last month’s World Team Trials.

Lowney is competing in events he dreamed of as a kid and excelling at an unprecedented age.

“He is at an elite status at such a young age,” coach J Robinson said. “Normally it takes time to get there, but he is there at 20 years old.”

While being so young, competing in international events has given Lowney a great deal of confidence. He now knows he can succeed at any level of competition, providing a great example for the rest of his Minnesota teammates.

“He can have a big effect on the rest of the team,” Robinson said. “Everybody says, `If Garrett can do it, so can we.'”

Aside from his individual exploits and desire to make a mark in the sport of wrestling, Lowney understands he is just another piece in the Minnesota wrestling puzzle.

Lowney helped the Gophers win a national title – a first for Minnesota – and was one of a record 10 All-Americans. The Gophers won the national title despite not having any finalists, a testament to their great depth.

“I am just one of the team,” Lowney said. “This team has incredible comraderie. Everybody has the same goals – to go and win the title.”

Due to his Olympics participation, Lowney was forced to miss the first half of last season for the Gophers.

After regaining his eligibility for the second semester, Lowney went on to dominate the competition – going 11-0 in dual meets and 8-0 in the Big Ten. He also won the Big Ten heavyweight title while becoming the only Gopher to go undefeated heading into the NCAA tournament.

During the tournament, Lowney lost to John Lockhart from Illinois during the semifinals. Lowney won the third place match and earned All-American status, yet was extremely disappointed by his showing.

“I had a tough loss in the semis and it was hard on me,” Lowney said. “I had beaten him twice already. I am going to go out and hope I don’t lose next time.”

Lowney will attempt to avenge the loss through his hard work and international experiences.

“I have confidence in my abilities,” Lowney said. “Yet I know I have room to improve and I want to stay on top.”

If he is able to stay on top, perhaps his name will be there with Pierce, Benjamin, and Lesnar as a repeat All-American heavyweight.


Brian Hall welcomes comments at [email protected]