Kevin Fowler named GAC North wrestling coach of the year

By Kory Carpenter, Record Sports Editor
Posted 3/4/16

Warrenton’s Kevin Fowler was named the Gateway Athletic Conference North wrestling Coach of the Year after leading the Warriors to their first conference title in program history. It was the first …

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Kevin Fowler named GAC North wrestling coach of the year

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Warrenton’s Kevin Fowler was named the Gateway Athletic Conference North wrestling Coach of the Year after leading the Warriors to their first conference title in program history.

It was the first award of its kind for Fowler, who just finished up his eighth season as the Warrenton head coach.

“It’s just a reflection of our guys,” he said. “I also have two of the best assistants in the business, and it’s pretty easy when you have great people around you.”

Fowler said assistant coaches Ryan Cross and Clayton Olsson could be head coaches at other schools if they wished, and that their decision to stay in Warrenton has helped the program tremendously.

“They’re just as important as having good kids,” he said. “One guy can’t do all this by himself. I have all the confidence in the world in them, and I’m really pleased how we work together as a team.”

Fowler also credited the middle school wrestling program that was created two years ago.

The high school program had 15 freshmen on the roster this season, something Fowler said never would have happened without a feeder program in place.

“For so many years, we were asking freshmen to step on the mat and compete in a sport that you can’t exactly practice at home,” he said. “It’s easy in other sports to practice. Everyone has played basketball before, but if you’re not in a program before high school, it’s awfully hard to step on the mat for the first time in a conference where the other kids have been doing it for years.”

Fowler saw the benefits of the middle school program this year, when freshman Jerrett Villinger qualified for the Class 4 state tournament at 152 pounds.

Villinger, along with fellow all-conference wrestlers Jacob Manion and Drake Meine, is expected to return for Warrenton next season.

And with more kids working on the mat before they reach high school, Fowler believes the success with continue for his program.

“As long as we keep doing our job at the lower level, it’s only going to push our high school guys harder,” he said. “Kids will be fighting for position and pushing each other. Just the sheer numbers will help us compete every day.”

First conference coach of the year award for FowlerSHOUTING INSTRUCTIONS — Warrenton Head Coach Kevin Fowler gives instructions to a wrestler during a match. Fowler earned his first GAC Coach of the Year award this season. Bill Barrett photo.

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