PRINCETON — Earl Towne grew up idolizing the likes of PHS wrestlers like the Taylors, the Seidels and the Birds when he was an aspiring Tiger Town Tangler. With a lot of hard work and determination, the Princeton High School senior has become one of those wrestlers to be looked up to by others.
Towne wrestled his way to the threshold of his ultimate goal, falling just one match short from qualifying for the IHSA state finals. He won a team-high 32 matches throughout the course of the season with just nine defeats.
He is the 2011-12 BCR Wrestler of the Year.
"Seeing those guys were definitely a huge inspiration to me. Seeing their names up there just wanted to make me be up there before, because they're guys I grew up wrestling with," he said.
Now that he's left his own legacy at PHS, Towne said, "It's always nice to have some people look up to you for things you have done."
Towne took third place on the home mats at the Princeton Regional, defeating Oregon's Doug Shaw 8-2 to keep his postseason dreams alive. At the Oregon Sectional, the Tiger tangler worked his way into a wrestleback position, needing a win to move into the final four and a secure an automatic berth to state. He fell by pin to Orion's Joe DeVolder, ending, for now, a 15-year wrestling career that started when he was 3 years old.
Not quite the final destination of choice, but Towne said, "I guess this season could have turned out worse than it was, so I'm happy about that. I'm pretty happy finishing my season 32-9. I made the 25-win club like I wanted to. I had a lot better season than I had before. It was a good way to end, even though it exactly wasn't the way I wanted to."
Towne's 32 wins has been topped by just 22 other wrestlers in the coveted 25-Win Club at PHS, dating back to 1966.
Fourth-year Tiger coach Steve Amy said Towne was a quiet team leader, but a strong one nonetheless.
"Earl came into this season with a great attitude and really worked his tail off. He was a great presence in both practice and in meets," Amy said. "He was the quiet leader of the group, if we needed a win to get the team back on track, he would go out and get it. With his work habits and dedication, I know that he will be successful in all of his future endeavors. "
Amy said Towne made a special effort to improve his overall ability.
"He really worked on perfecting his technique and getting rid of some of his bad habits on the mat, and it showed," he said.
If he has any regrets, he would have started the season like he ended it.
"I started going harder at the end of the season than I did at the beginning," he said. "If I'd actually stuck it out all the way through and went hard all year instead of hard at the end, it probably would have paid off a little bit better."
Towne was one of four seniors to come through the ranks under Amy. He said the Tiger coach "definitely helped me out a lot. I learned a lot from him. He's a good coach."
The PHS senior said it really hasn't sunk in that after 15 years, his wrestling days may be behind him and "may not sink in until this time next year." He said he had an offer from Augustana College and is looking into wrestling for Wisconsin-Platteville. He plans to study farm management and grain marketing wherever he goes.
Amy believes Towne has the right make-up to wrestle in college.
"He is talented and works hard enough to wrestle almost anywhere he decides to go. He will just have to stay patient and learn how to wrestle at the college level," he said. "Wrestling at that level can be very frustrating, considering he will be competing against quality opponents every time he steps on the mat. There is a little adjustment period that he will need to understand takes time, but I believe he will compete at that level."
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