‘I haven’t ever felt that way before. That was the best feeling ever ‘: Braydon Bowen becomes first state champ for Troup wrestling in 15 years

Published 9:15 am Saturday, February 25, 2023

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Fifteen years.

That is how many years passed in between state title winning wrestlers at Troup High School. That streak came to an end a week ago when Braydon Bowen went to Macon and returned with a state championship medal around his neck.

“I haven’t ever felt that way before,” Bowen said. “That was the best feeling ever. It felt amazing.”

Troup wrestling has been an elite program that went dormant in the time since its last state title winning wrestler. The revival had been in full swing for a few years now and Bowen is helping to put the Tiger wrestling program back on the map.

“I believe we are heading back to the top where we should be,” Bowen said. 

He knows that despite wrestling being an individual sport, it has been a team effort to get him to where he is today. Having coach Drew Garner and the entire Troup coaching staff in his corner has pushed him to work even harder while guiding him along the journey.

“It is amazing having him in your corner,” Bowen said. “He was the one of the best to ever do it. He taught me everything I know.”

Bowen has been a part of the Troup youth/Long Cane/Troup High since he was seven years old. When it comes to wrestling, it is all he knows. They have molded him into a wrestler able to win a state championship but also worthy to do it.

“Everybody supports everybody else,” Bowen said. “Everybody loves wrestling and are very into it. It’s a very good program.”

Wrestling has a long and grueling season. It has taken him year after year of hard work to get to a championship level. He knew this was an obtainable goal after an extremely successful freshman year with the Tigers. He finished fourth at state and got a taste of the big time and knew it would take even more hard work to get there.

He took his lumps and learned from them, just like he did over the course of this season. Bowen took a tough loss in sectionals and ended up matching up with him again at the state tournament. Bowen saw a chance to redeem the loss, stared into his opponents eyes and got the win mano y mano.

“I wasn’t even picked to place and that fueled the fire in me even more,” Bowen said. “My second match was the only time I was really nervous. I had to go up against a guy that beat me the week before at sectionals, and he was picked to win it.”

When he was able to capture this win, all nerves subsided and were replaced by a singular focus: become a state champ.

When his arm was raised for the final time at the state championship, it capped off a 64-9 season

“It means a lot to me to bring this back to Troup,” Bowen said. “I also broke the win record that coach (Garner) held for most wins in a season. I got 64 and he had 63. I beat him by one and it was the state winning match.”

His mom — Heather Bowen — made it all but one match this year with her husband and Braydon’s father Chase Bowen calling her a nervous wreck every time she had to watch him wrestle.

“After every match at the state tournament, she cried,” Chase said. 

It is that type of support system that had led to Bowen accomplishing big things at such a young age. He wants to repeat as a state title winner next year, but now he has his eyes set on nationals. 

“I checked off one goal, and now I have another, I want to be a national champ,” Bowen said. “We have one (national event) coming up next month in Virginia Beach. I’m going to try and win that.”