High School Sports

SJCA’s Caleb Dowling becomes wrestling program’s first Div. I commit

Saint Joseph’s finishes 5 wrestlers on the podium at PIAA championships

Saint Joseph's wrestling coach Pat Flynn talks about his wrestlers at the end of the PIAA wrestling championships.
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Saint Joseph's wrestling coach Pat Flynn talks about his wrestlers at the end of the PIAA wrestling championships.

St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy coach Pat Flynn has said how Caleb Dowling is a silent leader.

Dowling even said himself that he doesn’t really share a whole lot of things with people outside of teammate Zack Witmer.

On Saturday, Dowling — who eschews social media and only told family — became the Wolves’ first Division I wrestler when his father shared that he verbally committed to West Virginia. Nothing will be official until he signs his National Letter of Intent, which could come as early as November. He’ll be projected to wrestle at 149 or 157 pounds.

“I wanted to go somewhere different,” Dowling told the CDT on Monday. “I also wanted to stay somewhat close to home so my family could watch me, because I had schools like Stanford I was deep into talking with. I didn’t want to go to a city-city, but I wanted to go somewhere bigger than where I am from.”

Even though he didn’t tell his parents, Tim and Renee, his final decision until he was ready to commit, they kind of knew he was going to WVU just by the way he spoke about the school. They were so sure that Tim bought a Mountaineers flag for their home before Caleb made his decision known.

“It actually arrived 10 minutes after I called Coach (Tim) Flynn to commit,” Caleb said with a laugh..

Dowling had offers from Lehigh, Maryland, NC State and Bucknell. The junior who finished 43-6 last season said a couple of weeks after finishing third at the PIAA Championships that Ohio State reached out, but he was already so far into the process with other schools that he didn’t even consider the Buckeyes. Ultimately, it came down to what he was looking for in a school.

“After taking some unofficials (visits), I only needed to take two officials,” Dowling, a junior, said. “Everything West Virginia has, being a Big 12 school, the schedule they will wrestle, the coaching staff; I felt it had everything I wanted. I love the place. The official visit was so much fun. It’s a place I could see myself staying.”

Bucknell was the other school that Dowling officially visited. It was tough decision for him to make because he knows a lot of the Bison coaches after training there so much growing up.

Dowling’s commitment was perfect timing for him. Although it’s not early compared to some other D-I prospects, his decision actually came sooner than he thought.

“Once the postseason came around, I tried to stop focusing on colleges and focus on the postseason,” he said. “I told myself that as soon as it was over (postseason), I was going to dedicate a lot of time in deciding which college was best. I wanted to do it 100 percent before my senior year started, but I wanted to do it as early into summer as I could. It ended up being pretty early.”

So, what will Dowling focus on for his education?

He says that he thinks it will be something business related. However, during his official visit to the Mountaineers, a meeting with university president E. Gordon Gee left a big impression.

“I know it was Coach (Mitchell) Port’s first time meeting him, and he’s the assistant coach,” Dowling said. “This guy (Gee) is a pretty big deal. I talked to him a little bit. He said he likes it when kids come in undecided, because they take courses that are general to anything.”

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