Eyes on the Prize: Rowell makes her mark on the mat, in the classroom
She’s just a wisp of a girl, barely more than 100 pounds. But don’t dismiss Kateri Rowell as a pushover because of her size.
Others have made that mistake.
“I’ve always been really tomboyish,” she said. “I always beat up on my cousins when we play-wrestled. I just wanted to prove I’m tough.”
Plenty of opposing wrestlers can attest to her ruggedness. Rowell placed fourth in last season’s state wrestling meet – the highest finish ever by a Quincy girl.
Her athletic career almost didn’t get off the ground. Rowell admits she was lackadaisical about classes in the past.
“I didn’t really care for my grades until I started wrestling,” she said. “Over the years I’ve learned I have to take grades seriously. My freshman year was horrible. My grades were not the best.”
It knocked Rowell off the track for graduation besides threatening to make her ineligible to wrestle. She turned things around because of her desire to be on the mat.
“Kateri got into wrestling and used that to propel her grades,” said Greg Martinez, head coach of the QHS boys wrestling team. “Her grades
Now a senior, Rowell ctured a fibula at the end of her freshman year.
“I wasn’t sure if I would wrestle my sophomore year,” she said. “I almost gave it up.”
That’s when an older Jacks wrestler, Jayden Elmore, encouraged her to stay with the sport. He saw the talent that could be developed, and even helped pay some of the costs for her to turn out for wrestling.
“He told me to continue,” Rowell said. “That kept me going.”
Victoria Carrizales, the Lady Jacks assistant wrestling coach, has seen Rowell grow from the days when she struggled with school and felt stressed by classes. There’s been growth in competition, too.
“I feel like she has matured a lot to her senior year,” Carrizales said. “She used to be really impatient and would get herself in bad positions sometimes, and that would cost her matches. Now she is patient, but still pushes and keeps the girls on their toes.”
Rowell has goals for this wrestling season, including beating the defending 105-pound state champion from Grandview. She has lost two close matches to that girl, including one that went three overtimes.
“I think I scared her,” said Rowell, who usually wrestles at a higher weight class. “I want to wrestle her again. If it means I have to wrestle (at her weight), I will. To be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Meanwhile, her academic world is in fine shape.
“I was not on track to graduate this year, but now I’m going to graduate on time, which is pretty cool. I want to go into sports medicine and I don’t know if I want to wrestle after high school. I would like to do club sports.”
She quickly acknowledges the help from coaches such as Troy Stephens, who coached Rowell during her sophomore year. She credits him with teaching her various moves and explaining how to score points.
“I look up to all of my coaches,” Rowell said. “He was always one of the coaches I looked up to. And Victoria. She has been very inspirational to me, and she’s good at technique.”
Carrizales, who wrestled for Quincy and graduated in 2014, is a role model for Rowell.
“I would like to do what Victoria’s doing, come back and help our wrestling community grow,” Rowell said. “There are a lot of teenagers out there who don’t do any sports. It doesn’t matter if they wrestle, but I think it’s important to keep themselves busy to stay out of the wrong environment.”
— By Steve Kadel, firstname.lastname@example.org