By Dave Ricci
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — It’s simple really, Kurt McGowan always has a plan. In life. In wrestling. In literally everything he does.
McGowan doesn’t leave anything to chance. He sets his goals and works to the best of his ability to achieve them.
“My dad (Scott) is always pushing me to work hard for things,” McGowan said. “To set goals and keep myself motivated, and take things one step at a time.”
When McGowan made the Kenmore East varsity wrestling team as a seventh grader he had one goal, more than anything else, in his sights: to exit at the top of the all-time wins list.
“It’s a pretty big deal to me,” McGowan said as he sat in the bleachers of the Ken-East gym on Jan.18.
Having just earned career win No. 99 in a grueling 8-6 OT decision over Derrick Printup of Niagara-Wheatfield, McGowan wore his traditional stoic expression as he sat on the brink of school history.
“I know that my brother will be proud of me, and my family to know that I’ve accomplished 100 wins in just three-and-half seasons,” he said. “It’s a great thing and I’m really looking forward to it tomorrow.”
Less than 24 hours later McGowan’s name was in the history books. The sophomore defeated Devin Parker of Randolph by a 12-2 decision at the Catt-Little Valley Tournament to earn his 100th career win. According to all available information, McGowan has become the first-ever Ken-East wrestler to reach the triple-digit milestone.
No doubt the constant support from parents Scott and Janette have been a tremendous source of strength for Kurt in everything he does. But without question his biggest inspiration, especially on the mat, has been from his big brother, Ryan McGowan.
A former Bulldog grappler and assistant coach on the team, Ryan instilled the work ethic that drives McGowan.
“My brother is definitely the biggest influence on me. He always motivates me to go out there. He always uses the word ‘punish’ my opponents,” McGowan said with a smile. “When I was in seventh and eighth grade and he wrested here, he was always a very good motivator and the biggest influence on me.”
Dubbed “The Machine” by the Bulldogs’ coaching staff, McGowan is as focused and driven as anyone Coach Joe Korniczky has ever worked with.
“He’s been wrestling long enough to where he has the experience to figure out what he has to do at what point in a match,” Korniczky said. “You can see him looking up at the clock. When he has to pick up the pace you can see him pushing the other guy harder. He definitely has a plan out there.”
With another two full seasons left in his career, McGowan is focused on qualifying for and hopefully placing at states. Beyond Kenmore East, he knows that whatever the future holds — be it college wrestling or pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor — it will take hard work and dedication.
That, perhaps more than anything, is what the journey to 100 wins has taught McGowan. That he has what it takes to accomplish anything.
Find freelance reporter Dave Ricci on Twitter @DaveARicci.Find freelance reporter Dave Ricci on Twitter @DaveARicci.