Cutting weight, proving naysayers wrong common to Bryce Rowley’s repertoire
Right before suiting up to play one of the biggest games of his high school career, Rifle senior Bryce Rowley was determined to do better.
“I think it’s funny because like I said right before the state game, I’m like, ‘Hey, I took fifth in state wrestling, at least let me say that I took first at something,” Rowley said.
The 18-year-old varsity athlete and quarterback played an integral part in assisting the Bears to their heart-stopping 35-34 3A state championship win over The Classical Academy on May 15.
But it’s the preceding ride that got Rowley to where he is today that’s most notable.
Born in Michigan, Rowley, whose father, Gary, is an oil-field worker, moved often. Right before first grade, Rowley’s family moved to Rifle, where he’d attend elementary school. Then, right before fourth grade, the Rowleys moved to Ohio.
They would once again uproot when Rowley was in seventh grade. Making a return to Rifle, it was then his love for the sport of wrestling truly began to prevail.
But Rowley, who right now on paper stands 5-foot, 10-inches at 140 pounds, had to overcome one of the most difficult handicaps in all of sport: size.
“One of the biggest ones is with how my size was with football,” he said. “It was more or less just, like, kind of discouraging with my size. My freshman year, I didn’t come in the weight room at all. I was just like, ‘Oh, it’s football. It’s whatever. Then, as the years progressed, I started finding out, because this year I went full-on in the weight room, it was kinda paying off.”
It was a year riddled with doubt for Rifle High School football as they returned few veterans and dealt with an entirely new coaching staff.
When it came to wrestling, Rowley’s diligence was a bit different.
“My sophomore year in wrestling I cut over 15 pounds and that was probably not the best thing to do,” he said. “I think after sophomore year with my high school experience, it kind of opened my eyes with almost everything and, like, how everything will come to a close and how I should just put in the hard work.”
For Rowley, cutting weight and hard work meant sometimes putting on trash bags before doing pushups and crunches in a steamy bathroom as the shower was on, he said. It also meant eating nothing but handfuls of peanuts for dinner.
He said he did this because he wanted to beat his most formidable opponents and solidify his spot on the team.
“It was like I kind of cut weight because I really wanted to wrestle varsity,” he said.
Rowley said he focuses his mind on something he strives for the whole year.
“It sometimes feels like a dream or feels really good because you put all that hard work in just to get rewarded with that when you’re going forward,” he said.
Earlier this winter, Rowley took fifth place in the 3A 138-pound state championship division. Now Rowley’s about to graduate with a 3.5-grade-point average, and he’s also been nabbed by scouts to wrestle collegiately at Concordia University Wisconsin, in Mequon, Wisconsin.
Looking back at his high school career, however, Rowley said he’s going to miss his mentors.
“I think the big ones are the coaches and teammates,” he said. “They’re the biggest supporters that kind of made me who I am now.”
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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