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2000 Olympic bronze medalist Garrett Lowney wins his first official career college match for the Min



2000 Olympic bronze medalist Garrett Lowney officially started his highly-anticipated college wrestling career for the University of Minnesota, competing at heavyweight at the 2001 Cliff Keen/NWCA National Duals at the Bryce Jordan Arena on the campus of Penn State Univ. in State College, Pa., Saturday, January 20. Lowney's wait has been long, way too long, according to Lowney . After two years of redshirts, and a half season of ineligibility, Lowney was chomping at the bit to have his first official match as a Gopher. Lowney took a red-shirt year in 1998-99, then received an Olympic red-shirt season for 1999-2000. He was not eligible for the first semester this season, due to a Big Ten eligibility ruling, even though the NCAA had cleared him to wrestle. His first date of possible competition was January 16, when his classes began for the semester. Coach J Robinson made the excrutiating wait even longer for Lowney, selecting teammate Mike Flanagan to wrestle at heavyweight in the opening match against Hofstra. Lowney's debut had to wait another two hours until the quarterfinals, when the Gophers faced Nebraska in the 3:00 p.m. session. Lowney took the mat for the first official time in his college career against Pat Miron of Nebraska. Lowney showed his skill on his feet scoring a takedown in the first period, another takedown in the second period, and two takedowns in the third period, on the way to a 10-3 win. Lowney, who was known for his upper body throws in Sydney, was shooting quick and powerful double leg attacks throughout the match. Minnesota went on to a 30-9 victory. "It took awhile to come back doing to folkstyle after doing Greco-Roman for so long," said Lowney after the match. "It's a little transition, but I've been doing this style much longer than I have done Greco-Roman. It comes back quickly for me." "This has been a long time coming," said Lowney. "It takes me a little bit of work to realize I'm not going to just pin everybody just because I won a bronze medal. I have to keep patient. If I just keep scoring points, I won't get beaten." Minnesota coach J Robinson was pleased with the effort of his new heavyweight, a man who has been in the wrestling room for over two and a half seasons. "I thought he did well," said Robinson. "It has been a long time since he came to college, and even a long time since the Olympics. This is a good tournament for him. It will be a good place to see where he is right now with his wrestling. He's bigger now; he's at 235 pounds. He has confidence and poise. He has the power to force people to wrestle his way." Lowney won a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games this past summer at 213.75 pounds, with a spectacular performance for a 20-year-old newcomer to the international scene. A key victory came early in the tournament, when he scored a shocking overtime win over five-time World Champion Gogui Kogouachvili of Russia, launching the tournament favorite with a five-point back souplesse. Lowney's only loss in Sydney came in the semifinals against eventual champion Mikael Ljungberg of Sweden. Lowney does not mind wrestling at heavweight, which has a limit of 285 pounds, much higher than the 213.75 pounds he wrestled at the Olympics. He still plans competing at 213.75 pounds in Greco-Roman in the future, so he has maintained his excellent fitness level. "As long as I keep my head, I'll be all right at this weight. I have to realize that I have to wrestle a big guy differently than a little guy," he said. Lowney hails from Appleton, Wis., where he was a star for Freedom High School. He won five Junior National titles during his illustrious youth career, and went on to claim a Junior World Greco-Roman title in 1999. His excellence in international wrestling has come before his excellence on the college level. Lowney is believed to be the first wrestler in U.S. history to have won an Olympic medal before he ever wrestled a college match. He has to be the most heralded freshman wrestler to step on a college mat. "My goal is the Olympics again in four years, and I want to be a four-time NCAA champion," said Lowney. "That is what I'm working for. This is a good first step." Anyone who watched Lowney launch Koguachvili for five points in overtime in Sydney understands that these goals are legitimate, and need to be taken very seriously. Garrett Lowney, the college wrestler, has arrived...
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