The Duncan Banner

July 25, 2013

Duncan’s native sons return for camp

Sean Gorman
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — They say records are made to be broken, but when it comes to Duncan wrestling, they were made to be broken by anyone with the last named Rowell.

Three Class 5A state titles each. Almost every record in Demons wrestling history. All-Americans on the collegiate level.

For Duncan natives and brothers Cody and Casy Rowell, it’s all a result of committing themselves to the sport they’ve loved since they were old enough to start learning it.

“We just tried to do everything we could while we were at Duncan, get every accomplishment possible,” Cody Rowell said. “So much of it comes back to the great support system we had – our parents were always great.”

The duo made their return to the town where they solidified themselves as some of the best to step on the mat this week at the Duncan youth wrestling camp. Each saw it as a chance to give back to the program they helped build.

“It’s always a great way to teach the next generation of wrestlers what we’ve learned, and it’s a good thing for the program,” Casy Rowell said. “I hope to be a coach when I get out of school, so this is something I enjoy.”

That program has since recovered in recent years, partially because of the Rowells’ enormous success, but was at risk of falling apart when Casy was a kid. The Rowells’ father Richard did all he could to change that, getting kids from all over the county to come wrestle in Duncan and promoting the program as much as he could, all while working at Halliburton night after night. It’s something the pair still appreciate to this day.

“He hadn’t even ever wrestled, he just knew we liked it,” Cody Rowell said. “It meant a lot to us, and we always felt like we had something to prove once we started competing at Duncan.”

That wasn’t the only motivating factor for the Rowell brothers, who were mainly driven by the desire to attend college.

“We were kind of told at an early age, that if you don’t find a way, either athletics or academics, it wasn’t a sure thing that you’d get to go to college,” Casy Rowell said. “We took that seriously. To be able to say that we haven’t had to ask for a dollar from our parents in four to five years, it’s a good feeling.”

Out of all the memories, all the highs of winning tournament after tournament, one particular moment stands out for each brother.

It’s one they each got to experience separately – winning state that first time their sophomore years. For Cody, he hadn’t expected to even qualify that year. After qualifying as the very last seed, he upset three of his opponents, including a last minute comeback victory for the title.

“It was so surreal, so unexpected,” Cody said. “Once you reach that level, your game goes to a different place. Everyone expects something out of you and you never look back.”

Both brothers had to endure an added pressure those last two years of their high school careers after winning the ultimate title after only their second year. For Casy in particular, it was even greater being the younger brother of an athlete who came in just years before to win his junior and senior year as well.

“It was tough for me as the younger brother, I had to fill those shoes,” Casy Rowell said. “It was so nerve racking before every single matches. The key for me was staying humble and hungry.”

Through all the success on the mat, the brothers knew that no matter when or where, they could count on the other Rowell off of it.

“I remember when I was a kid and Cody was in middle school, we’d watch hours of film on his opponents and write notes about it because we were so interested,” Casy Rowell said. “When he was up at school I’d call him with questions and he’d always have good information and words of encouragement. I get more nervous before his matches than mine.”

That bond brought the brothers together at the University of Central Oklahoma, where they got to wrestle together for one year when Cody was a senior and Casy was a freshman.

“Going from high school to college, you go from wrestling boys to wrestling men,” Cody said. “Guys that are 28, 29 years old.”

That didn’t stop either Rowell from dominating the competition on the mat. Once again, the results speak for themselves: Cody was an All-American his senior year in 2010 while Casy is a two-time All American who reached the semifinals at nationals.

Cody now works in medical sales, while Casy is gearing up for his senior season at UCO. Looking ahead to the future, neither would be against coming back home to coach at Duncan some day.

“That’s the ultimate goal, we’ve talked about it before,” Cody said. “This program, we love to invest ourselves in it because our future could be around here in this area.”