It’s not unusual for Lake Highlands High School senior wrestler Eddie Powell and dad Emery to face off on the living room floor after dinner.
“Why, just last week, Dad challenged me after practice to wrestle for the family championship. I said, ‘Sure, Dad, wait ‘til I’ve been practicing for two hours and can barely move,’” Powell says, laughing.
While the family title remains unclaimed, Powell’s opponents have felt the brunt of his mat experience this season. Although his wiry build (6-foot-1, 140 pounds) sometimes works against him, his 18-4 record (at press time) is the team’s best.
“For my weight class, I’m pretty tall,” Powell says. “I’ve been wrestling so long now that some of my moves are second nature. I really don’t even have to think about them.”
Powell relies on quickness and technique to outmaneuver and out-think his generally shorter, stockier opponents. His long arms enable him to administer his favorite moves, the “banana split” and the “guillotine.”
“Once you get someone in those two moves, it’s hard for them to get out, and it’s also a little uncomfortable, to say the least,” Powell says.
The wrestling team co-captain moved to Lake Highlands 12 years ago from Oceanside, Calif. With three younger brothers and two younger sisters, there’s no shortage of wrestling opportunities at home. And let’s not forget Dad sneaking up from behind for an impromptu practice session.
“My dad has always been a role model for me,” Powell says. “He got me involved with wrestling, and we always have a lot of fun together. As you might expect, there’s never a dull moment at our house.”
Despite his impressive record, Powell has no plans to wrestle at his college of choice, Brigham Young University, where he has been accepted. His 92.4 grade point average won him a spot in the National Honor Society, and his interest in math and science probably can be traced to his father, who works as a laser physicist at Texas Instruments.
Powell comes from a Mormon background and is involved with church activities such as seminary class, Bible study and a variety of youth activities including volleyball and basketball.
He enjoys volleyball so much that following conclusion of the wrestling season, he plans to organize a boys’ team with the help of girls’ varsity coach Tracy Hearst.
But it’s on the mat where Powell is most lethal, having taken up the sport seriously in the ninth grade. His father is director of the Lake Highlands Wrestling Club, which gives kids from seventh grade through high school the chance to face off with area wrestling clubs.
Powell wrestled on the varsity team as a sophomore, winding up with a 5-15 record in what he said was a “learning experience.” Last year, he wrestled on the junior varsity, unable to beat out his varsity teammate at the 125-pound slot.
Keep in mind that last year’s predominantly senior team was probably the school’s all-time best, compiling a 17-2 dual meet record and finishing eighth in the state.
With most of the mat masters having graduated from last year’s squad, it has been up to Powell and senior Eric Reed to grab the leadership reins under coach Pete Grieder.
“We’re young this year, without a lot of experience,” Powell says. “Some of the younger guys look up to me for advice about moves and technique, and it’s a role that I enjoy.”
Recently, Powell finished fourth at the 26-team Tri-State meet. He is looking forward to district, regional and state meets in January and February. To qualify for the state meet, he must finish first or second in the regional – his goal this year.
As for Dad, the showdown for the family title looms on the horizon.
“He is a little bit stronger than me, but I’m in better shape,” the younger Powell says. “So he’d better get me quickly, because the longer the match goes on, the better chance I have.”