ORANGE — Wrestling and body building are two unique passions in Chance Bowers’ life.
The Orange County senior wrestler incorporates both into his daily regimen to improve not only his craft, but his way of life as well.
The combination has proved beneficial. Bowers captured his second straight Jefferson District title on Saturday to garner Schewels Athlete of the Week honors.
The senior earned a third-period fall against Albemarle’s Zack Davis to secure top honors in the 160-pound weight class. The individual victory also helped the Hornets’ capture their first district team title in more than a decade.
“What made me successful at districts was remaining focused and knowing my training would lead me to victory,” Bowers said. “I was pleased with my performance and it felt good to reclaim the title. I was more pleased with the victory as a team.”
Bowers was introduced to wrestling as an eight-year-old by his dad to cross-train for other sports. As a youngster, he also played football and swam, but grew to love the one-on-one competition on the mat.
“My dad introduced me to wrestling to help with my tackling technique on the football field,” Bowers said. “I naturally gravitated toward wrestling because I could no longer stand team sports. It frustrated me that I would lose a game if my teammates could not perform at their best.”
A decade later, the switch to wrestling has served Bowers well. A four-year starter at Orange County, he has amassed more than 130 victories and qualified for the state tournament twice. Last February, he placed third at the Class 5 state championships to take home all-state honors.
“I believe that my experience on the mat is what has attributed most to my success,” Bowers said. “I am thoroughly pleased with my performance on the mat thus far.”
Bowers’ senior season has been nothing short of phenomenal. He has posted a 33-3 record and is ranked state-wide in his weight class. In addition to his dual match victories, he has captured individual gold four other tournaments, including the John “Coach K” Kayajanian Memorial tournament.
“Chance has had an excellent season,” Orange County wrestling coach Bryan Seal said. “He truly is a self-motivator. He hit the weight room this offseason and jumped up two weight classes. A four-year starter in the program, so his ability to go out and win big matches for us will truly be missed [next year],”
Seal said Bowers keeps the team loose. This fall, Bowers dressed as the Hornet mascot at various sporting events but kept it a secret from most of his classmates.
The Orange County coach said Bowers’ role as the school’s mascot is just one of his many talents.
“Chance has the ability to flip the switch and start mentally preparing himself for his match,” Seal said. “He likes to have fun and joke with his teammates, but when it’s time to go, playtime is over. He really prepares himself leading up to that match.”
Bowers credits Seal and former Woodberry Forrest coach Dick Glover for his continued success.
“Those are the two mentors that I look up to most,” Bowers said. “They were both great wrestlers, but what distinguishes them and sets them apart is their dedication to serve others both on and off the mat. Both men have been a great blessing in my life and the same to countless others. This season I have made it my goal to emulate them.”
Away from the mat, Bowers is active in his church community and enjoys spending time with family and friends. The senior’s favorite class in school is English and some of his favorite activities include snowboarding, skating and surfing.
Another life-long passion for Bowers is body building. At a young age, he recalled wanting to train and develop his physique, but his parents balked and told him he couldn’t lift weights until his 13th birthday.
The senior’s passion continued to grow and after a little persuasion, Bowers started lifting in the summer prior to his 13th birthday because of his “intense desire” to lift weights.
“My favorite aspect of bodybuilding is simply the fact that you get out of it what you put in,” he said. “There are no shortcuts to building muscle. It takes hard work, dedication, and most importantly, self discipline.”
Bowers has yet to participate in any bodybuilding competitions, primarily because of the strict weight management process during wrestling season but does plan to compete in men’s physique competitions in the future.
In the meantime, the senior has started his own YouTube channel (Chance Bowers) and Instagram page (Chance_Bowers_fitness) to help fuel his passion for the sport. In three months, he has posted 12 videos and has 112 subscribers. The videos range from guides on nutrition, workout plans and demonstrations about the sport.
“My very first video was titled ‘ARMageddon’ because it focused on increasing the size and strength in your arms,” Bowers explained. “It was designed to break down the muscle fibers and promote growth no matter what state the viewer’s arms may be in. This is my most viewed video to date.”
His latest project is a transformation video, tracking his personal progression that he hopes will encourage others to experience the sport.
“My goal is to become a successful bodybuilder and fitness influencer,” Bowers said. “I love making videos and reading the comments and seeing the reactions of people who watch them. I am truly pleased with the videos that I have created and believe that the content that I have produced is educational, straightforward and can help those searching to improve their physique and overall fitness.”
Bowers understands some people’s concerns involving the sport.
“Some misconceptions about the sport is that everyone is taking performance enhancing drugs and the drugs do all the work, when that’s not the case at all,” he said. “There are many natural athletes in the fitness industry and most of those put in all the necessary time and effort to get where they are.”
For now, Bowers focus is closing out his final season with a bang.
“I would love to win the state title for myself, but a more important goal for me is to lead my team to their first state championship,” he said. “Seeing my team’s year on the district, regional and state banner means more to me than having my house mounted on the fieldhouse wall as a state champion. I want to be remembered as the leader of a great team and not as an individual champion.”