St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s Caleb Dowling got a shot at his childhood dream of being a PIAA champion on Saturday afternoon.
However, that was a tall task against Reynolds’ Cole Matthews in the 138-pound Class 2A finals.
“He’s tough. He snapped me down a lot,” Dowling said of his opponent. “It was one of the first kids I’ve wrestled this year that was stronger than me. He is an all-around solid wrestler.”
Dowling dropped a tough 5-2 decision to Matthews, who became a two-time state champion. The Raider’s speed and explosiveness not only surprised Dowling, but also his coach, Pat Flynn.
Matthews scored a takedown about midway through the first period, but Dowling escaped five seconds later and trailed 2-1 to start the second. The sophomore choose bottom but was unable to escape.
Dowling gave up an escape 30 seconds into the third period. Matthews would add one more takedown, and the season was complete for Dowling.
“It just kind of shows me that I’m not there yet. I have work to do,” Dowling said of the loss. “It motivates me. An hour from now I’ll be happy (finishing second), but I still haven’t acheived my goal of getting first. I’m just going to keep training hard, and keep doing what I’m doing and get one more step next year.”
Flynn knows his wrestler gave it everything he had. Flynn was proud of what Dowling accomplished this season but knows there is still some work to be done.
“He’s going to come back hungrier for next year,” Flynn said. “I know he will start working on Monday. He had a great season. He’s one of my team leaders. I’m looking forward to next year with him.”