EAST CHICAGO — AJ Fowler’s loss to Merrillville’s Drew Bailey in last week’s Hobart regional was a blessing.
The three-overtime, 4-3 match focused Calumet’s senior 220 pounder for the semistate.
“Last week, I wasn’t as aggressive as I wanted to be,” he said. “I needed to keep up with myself. I needed to put the confidence in myself that I can beat anybody that I want to.”
When the two met again in the 220 final of the E.C. Central Semistate on Saturday, Fowler pinned Bailey in one minute, 02 seconds. It was his fourth pin of the day.
He pinned Lafayette Jefferson’s Jacob Raub in 4:30, South Bend Adams’ Jonathan Thomas in 4:22 and Portage’s Damari Dancy in 3:07.
“I learned from my mistakes and I knew what needed to be done,” Fowler said. “I feel like I just needed a good slap in the face.”
In the process, he became the all-time wins leader in Warriors program history with 143, coach Jim Wadkins said.
Wadkins said Bailey had a tougher route to the semistate final and Fowler took advantage with a quick cradle.
“(Bailey) is a horse,” Wadkins said. “Last week, we didn’t wrestle a very good match. We scratched it out in overtime. And then we hesitated, he took advantage of us and scored late.”
It’s widely known that the Fowler name is all over that Calumet record book. AJ Fowler is the fifth brother to wrestle for Wadkins. The quintet have combined for exactly 500 wins after the four Fowler added Saturday, Wadkins said.
“He’s had some opportunities that were made available to him because of his brothers,” Wadkins said. “They’re very supportive and we’re glad to have them.”
Older brother Nick is the most accomplished of the Fowler bunch, finishing sixth in the state his senior year.
AJ Fowler qualified for state as a junior but didn’t advance to the medal round.
“I’m going higher. I’m going for the championship,” AJ Fowler said. “(Nick) will hold anything above me and I just need one more thing to put above him.”