Will Chowanec’s performance during the season-ending championship meets bordered on legendary status. Xavier coach Mike Cunningham noted that his senior had one of the most impressive finishes to a season that Cunningham has seen during his coaching career.
Chowanec won his second Southern Connecticut Conference championship, captured his third Class LL title and won for the first time at the State Open. Chowanec, the 2014 Register All-Area Wrestling Most Valuable Player, finished this season 48-6 at 138 pounds, one of the state’s most competitive classes.
In addition, Chowanec finished fourth at the New England championship. Chowanec, who will enlist in the Marine Corps, finished his career at 151-23.
“In all the years that I’ve been coaching, he probably had, from mid-January to the New England meet in the beginning of March, one of the best endings to a season, and to a career,” Cunningham said. “He didn’t lose a match from mid-January until the semifinals at New England. And 138 was probably one of the toughest weights in all of Connecticut from top to bottom. The top 10 kids, any one of them could’ve won the title, but Will wrestled unbelievably.”
Winning the State Open crown was especially rewarding for Chowanec, who failed to place at the event as a junior. Despite winning the Class LL title last season, Chowanec admitted he lost focus and didn’t perform to expectations. He vowed to change that as a senior.
“It was very important for me to go on with the rest of my life knowing that I did my best my senior year and really pulled it together after making a mistake my junior year,” Chowanec said. “It meant a lot to me.”
Chowanec said the coaching staff played a vital role in his recomitment to the sport.
“They told me this is my senior year, and my last year that I am going to do this,” Chowanec said. “It felt good to be motivated and have drive every practice. I wanted to go harder and work to get better. They just told me that this is my senior year and I can win this, and I can win that, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Their goals coincided with mine.”
Chowanec enjoyed success on the mat early in his career, finishing second in the SCC at 103 as a freshman and then winning the SCC and Class LL titles at 113 as a sophomore. But Chowanec didn’t exactly know what to expect when he came to Xavier. He was home-schooled up until high school, although he did wrestle for a middle school program.
“The middle school team prepared me for high school, but I didn’t have much expectations,” Chowanec said. “Middle school is much different from high school. The kids are bigger and faster.”
Chowanec, whose been wrestling since he was 4, has always had natural talent and speed. But he improved in other facets this season.
“He got a little more technical,” Cunningham said. “His intelligence on the mat was supreme. He knew who he was wrestling and what he could do and what he couldn’t do. That’s where I thought he improved tremendously. He didn’t take unnecessary risks in the big matches. He managed those matches well.”