Caleb Dowling Makes Statement, Downs Defending State Champ Nathan Haubert in Quarters


HERSHEY, Pa.: Caleb Dowling came into the PIAA Class 2A Championships as a marked wrestler. He’s the guy everyone wants to beat.

That comes with the territory when you are the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the state. But, the St. Joseph’s Catholic standout didn’t feel like the favorite, not with the defending 145-pound state champion in his bracket.

So, Dowling wanted to make an impression. He wanted to serve notice that he is still the guy to beat in the loaded 145-pound weight class.

Mission accomplished.

Dowling, a state runner-up a year ago at 138, scored an early takedown and held off Palisades’ Nathan Haubert by a 3-2 count to punch his ticket to Friday night’s much-anticipated semifinal round.

“It feels good,” Dowling said. “I came in here focusing on the match in front of me, but I looked at the bracket and knew who I was going to have in the semifinals, finals, and quarters.

“I knew everything he did, but I felt confident in myself that if I did what I know how to do, I could beat him. That’s what I did.”

Dowling went to work early and appeared to catch Haubert, ranked fourth in the state after being out with an injury for most of the season, for a takedown less than 10 seconds into the match.

Haubert had no answer on bottom. Dowling rode the defending champ the rest of the period and took a 2-0 lead to the second period.

“That’s one thing I do when I wrestle, which is get the first points,” Dowling said. “My dad thinks the same thing … They are the most important ones. That takedown was the difference in the match.

“I knew if I took him down and rode him tough, I would take a 2-0 lead into the second period. I don’t get scored on that much, so normally, if I get a lead, I’m pretty good at protecting it.”

Continued Dowling, “That 2-0 lead kind of gave me a cushion. I tried to keep wrestling, but I wasn’t going to risk anything. It’s the state tournament.”

Dowling added to his advantage in the second with an escape 25 seconds into the period. From there, he kept Haubert at bay by getting inside and controlling the place.

Haubert got his first points with an escape in the third. Dowling kept shooting and got inside a few more times. He didn’t finish, but he was able to avoid stalling calls until the end of the match.

Dowling did get hit twice in the last six seconds of the match, but it wasn’t enough to make a difference in the outcome. The junior had another win and earned a spot in the semifinals against No. 3-ranked Andrew Cerniglia, of Notre Dame-Green Pond.

“I know what I’m capable of,” Dowling said. “I’ve had some matches this year that I didn’t wrestle as I should. Some people think I’m up and down, sometimes, but I try not to focus on that.

“A match like this helps me, because I beat a kid who has established himself already. It gives me a little confidence, but now I can look forward to the semifinals tonight and try to win that one.”

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