Family tradition helps fuel McCall-Donnelly wrestling team

Three brothers are having a strong season as Vikings seek team's best run at state.

rroberts@idahostatesman.comFebruary 27, 2014 

Not everyone in the Lowen household is crazy about wrestling.

Sixth-grader Maggie, the second youngest, tried the sport for a while, but decided she'd rather play basketball and volleyball.

The same can't be said about her five brothers.

Zach, Elijah, Seth, Jed and Gideon all began wrestling in elementary school with the encouragement of their father, Tommy, who wrestled in high school and now coaches in middle school.

Zach, the oldest, won two individual state championships for McCall-Donnelly High and is currently a freshman for Boise State.

Middle brothers Elijah, Seth and Jed are doing their best to follow Zach's lead. All three helped McCall-Donnelly win a 2A District Three championship last week to qualify for the state tournament, set for Friday and Saturday at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.

Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. each day, and championship matches are scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday.

Fifth-grader Gideon is just beginning his wrestling career, but is already an avid competitor when one of his siblings pulls out the mat at home.

"It gets pretty crazy sometimes, especially with so many brothers that are all really competitive," said Jed, a 15-year-old freshman who competes at 120 pounds. "You always have to fight over everything, like the bathrooms and the food and stuff."

Said Elijah: "We scrap all the time."

That competitiveness has served them well on the mat. Elijah, a senior, finished second at the district tournament at 170 pounds despite nursing a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

Sixteen-year-old Seth, a junior, claimed the district title at 126 pounds and is trying for his second state championship after winning the 98-pound title as a freshman. Seth (39-7) is seeded second behind Ririe's T.J. Thacker (39-4) in their 16-man bracket.

Jed took third at the district meet behind two juniors and is one of four freshman to qualify for state in the 120-pound 2A bracket.

The three brothers make up one-third of McCall-Donnelly's nine-member team, which has a chance to earn the highest finish in program history if it can beat the team's third-place finish from 2012 - when Zach, Elijah and Seth were on the team.

"In a small town, you don't have a ton of kids coming out, so it is important to have that family dynamic," McCall-Donnelly coach Scott Erekson said. "You get the oldest brother involved and all the little brothers follow thereafter. In wrestling, if you have one tough brother, it's a pretty safe bet that the rest of the kids in the family are going to be fairly tough as well."

The Lowens won't make their run at school history alone. Teammates Clayton Clark (132), Rainier Montes (138), Cody Appa (145) and Blake Julian (182) also won district titles for the Vandals.

"We only really have a little more than half a lineup, so they've done a lot," Erekson said. "That means every kid on the team has to be scoring, and you have to have a few kids on the team that can win it. It's a big accomplishment for them to do what they have done so far with only nine guys."

Rachel Roberts: 377-6422, Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX

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