Gophers heavyweight wrestles way to Sydney

by Monica Wright

While multiple Gophers athletes will participate in Olympic trials throughout the summer, freshman wrestler Garrett Lowney is the first to earn a confirmed spot on the Olympic team.
One of eight champions in Greco-Roman wrestling at the U.S. Team Trials in Dallas, Lowney defeated former Olympian Jason Gleasman 3-0 in overtime to earn a trip to Sydney, Australia.
As for the honor of pinning a former medal winner, Lowney took it as all part of the Olympic experience.
“Gleasman had beaten me three of the four times we’d wrestled in the past, but they were always close matches,” Lowney said. “This time I just knew I could beat him; my confidence and momentum were going so well, I wasn’t intimidated at all.”
Winning a spot on the team leaves little time for Lowney to enjoy the rest of his summer break. Intense training at the Olympic training center is to be followed by matches in cities as far apart as San Diego and Moscow before he heads to Sydney on Sept. 1.
But for Lowney this kind of serious preparation is all to his advantage.
“It isn’t as much something different to do but different styles to learn from different partners,” Lowney said. “When you practice in the same place all the time you wrestle the same people, so it’s a good thing to get a look at different styles. I couldn’t get better training than I do at Minnesota, but variety is always helpful.”
Lowney, who will compete as a heavyweight for the Gophers in the fall, follows in the footsteps of eight previous Minnesota wrestling Olympians.
The most recent Gopher contribution, Brandon Paulson, won a silver medal in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Should Lowney medal in Sydney this September, he vows his goals for wrestling won’t be completed without multiple NCAA championships, something he plans to undertake at Minnesota.
“I view winning a medal as something totally different from college,” Lowney said. “If I medal in Greco I’ve reached my goal in Greco, but I haven’t accomplished my collegiate goals. They are two totally different paths.”
After competing in Sydney, Lowney will return to the Gophers where he has a big undertaking ahead of him: replace 2000 NCAA champion and future WWF big man Brock Lesnar.

Monica Wright welcomes comments at [email protected]