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Rowe to take shot at nationals

June 30, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

Just three years into his wrestling career, Brawley's Chauncey Rowe can consider himself one of the top wrestlers in the country.

The 12-year-old Brawley Gladiator recently placed fourth at the Western Regional tournament in Pocatello, Idaho, earning a trip to the national tournament in Fresno on July 6-8.

"I thought I'd be able to place in the top 10," said Rowe. "I didn't think it would be as hard as it was."

"I didn't know what to expect," said Gladiator coach Joel Dueñas. "I knew he was ready. I figured he'd go up there and get some experience. But after we got there, he was beating guys like they were nothing."


Rowe began the tournament with three straight technical fall wins over wrestlers from Washington and Idaho. He did not lose until he ran into the Idaho state champion in his fourth match. Rowe came back to pick up one more win before losing to the Alaska state champion. He lost to the Washington state champion by one point in the third-place match.

"I was a little disappointed," Rowe said of his final match. "I knew (he) was not that much better than me. I knew I could beat him. I was happy to take fourth, but I wanted third."

While Rowe was a bit down about his performance, his coach was more than pleased.

"I was ecstatic," said Dueñas. "When you win any matches at that level you've got a good shot at placing. I knew he would do something good, but I wasn't sure how well."

Rowe's wrestling career began at age 9. He had been wrestling with his dad, a former high school wrestler, when he decided he was interested in the sport.

"We would play wrestle and I could get out of most of the stuff he put me in," Rowe said. "So he called and signed me up."

Rowe joined the Gladiators and has been under Dueñas' tutelage ever since.

"He's always had natural talent," said Dueñas, an assitant with the Gladiators until this season, when he became head coach. "He was a little rough around the edges."

Rowe will enter Barbara Worth Junior High as a seventh-grader in the fall. He says he wants to keep wrestling and hopes to take a shot at making the United States Olympic team. For now, he has his sights firmly set on the national tournament.

"I think I might get at least in the top 10," Rowe said. "My goal is to get in the top 10 of every tournament I go to."

After making the 18-hour drive to Pocatello for the regionals, Rowe and Dueñas will have a much shorter trip to the nationals in Fresno. Dueñas thinks the trip will be worth their time.

"Judging from the way he wrestled at the regionals and the confidence he's gotten, I'm excited about his chances," said Dueñas. "A big part of the kids who place in the western regionals place at nationals."

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