Jared Dowell is a junior 195-pounder on the Pekin wrestling team. He is a returning Class 3A sectional qualifier. This season, he is 25-4 with 15 pins against a 3A-heavy schedule. He owns a tournament championship at Lincoln and runner-up finish at Springfield. He is currently recovering from a shoulder injury that kept him from finishing the Mid-Illini Conference tournament, but he expects to be ready for the 3A postseason.

Journal Star sports reporter Stan Morris asked Dowell five questions:

1 How long have you been wrestling and what do you like best about the sport?

“I've been wrestling for 11 years. The thing that I enjoy most about wrestling is the amazing friends, teammates, fans, referees, and coaches I've been able to meet. I also love how wrestling teaches you future life lessons, like determination, mental toughness, discipline, and responsibility. The wrestling community is also very tight knit, and that is another special aspect the sport has.”

2. What have been the biggest keys to your success this season?

“The biggest keys to my success so far have been my coaches and teammates pushing me to go my hardest everyday. They keep me in a great mindset to go out on the mat everyday and work my tail off. Another contribution to my success was summer lifting with the football team here at Pekin High. The muscle I've put on has helped me compete with the other upperclassmen in the state.”

3 What has been the highlight of your high school athletic career so far and why?

“The highlight would have to be my recent tournament win at the Lincoln Holiday Memorial Tournament back in December. It was a big tournament, and it was my first ever high school tournament title. Looking into the crowd while my hand was being raised and seeing my teammates and Pekin parents cheering me on and congratulating me was a moment I'll never forget for the rest of my life. “

4 You battled Class 2A No. 4 ranked Mitch Hutmacher of Chatham Glenwood to a 3-1 double overtime loss in the finals of the Joe Bee Memorial Tournament in Springfield in December. What was that match like and what did you learn from it?

“Mitch was a very tough competitor. I kept the match close, but I didn't pull the trigger when I needed to. I battled a long match with him and this taught me that I can compete with top level guys in the state of Illinois. When I went into overtime, I was exhausted and I knew it would be a tough win to pull out. Also, this was my first loss of the season, and it made me even more hungry to fix my mistakes and improve on my overall abilities.”

5 What other hobbies, interests do you have outside of wrestling?

“Outside of wrestling, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, as well as watching and playing football. In the off-seasons, I enjoy traveling and going on different vacations. I went to Colorado last year to visit my brother in June. I’ve also been to Puerto Rico and Florida.”

Bonus questions

1. What is your favorite (pro team, pro athlete, restaurant, movie, song)?

“Pro team: Chicago Bears. Pro athlete: Kyle Snyder. Restaurant: Red Robin. Movie: The Sandlot. Song: Anything that pumps me up before a match. “

2. What is one thing most people do not know about you?

“Most people don't know that I'm a great ping pong player.”