Mexico girls celebrate Bowen’s 100th, Hayden’s 50th wins before districts

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 2/7/24

The Mexico girl wrestlers have a list of accomplishments going into districts this weekend.

The thing is the Mexico Lady Bulldogs are more proud of each other than they are themselves. …

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Mexico girls celebrate Bowen’s 100th, Hayden’s 50th wins before districts


The Mexico girl wrestlers have a list of accomplishments going into districts this weekend.

The thing is the Mexico Lady Bulldogs are more proud of each other than they are themselves. That’s how seniors Katie Bowen and Karisa Hayden each felt when they picked up their 100th and 50th win, respectively, even though Bowen is the first Mexico girl to 100 wins and Hayden recorded 50 in two years of lifelong mat experience.

Bowen has been the girl of firsts in the Mexico girls’ program, including first state qualifier, state medalist and college signee, and picked up another in the Lady Bulldogs’ final regular season competition Friday at the Lady Thundering Herd in Buffalo. She finished fourth at 115 pounds following two pinfall victories (only two losses via 5-0 decision and 6-4 tiebreaker) and officially recorded No. 100 in her first match against Clinton’s Kiya Eshleman.

“I’m too hard on myself because 100 wins is not impressive for me,” Bowen said. “I feel like I can always do better — always, always.”

Bowen said she feels that way because she can’t help but think what could’ve been since she missed almost two years due to injury. She returned during this season and started racking up the wins and medals at various duals and tournaments. 

“22 and half months. I counted,” Bowen said, laughing. “It was way too long. I told myself I was going to make it to 100 one way or another with this half a season left. I know I’m a decent wrestler. It’s just all in my mindset I feel like what gets to me.”

Bowen urges herself to not “get in your own head” because she has the tools after years of working with head coach Tony Senor, her father Johnathon Bowen and others as she has developed from the Mexico youth club.

Speaking of others around her, Bowen said she was glad she accomplished the feat with so many great girls around her like Hayden. When Bowen first started high school wrestling during the program’s inception four years ago, the team was smaller than it is now and said she thinks more positive opinions of girls wrestling have emerged during that time. Thinking of that gives her strong emotions, she said, as does what she remembers Hayden wrote on her 100-win poster.

“I almost cried,” Bowen said. “My dad made a poster with pictures of me throughout my wrestling career, and most of the people on the team signed it. Some of the messages, especially Karisa’s, were so emotional and so sweet. I never imagined having a full lineup like we do, and spending it with Karisa and Abbie Seibert — best senior group I could’ve ever imagined — and my teammates in general.”

“It was just appreciating how I’m really glad I met Katie,” Hayden said. “I wouldn’t have met her outside of wrestling, like we have classes together, but I would never have been as close with her as I am now. It’s a weird feeling because I don’t think I can imagine my life without Katie in it because her and her sister (teammate and sophomore) Abby Bowen) are like my sisters, and their mom, I’m really close with her too.”

The feeling is mutual as Bowen was proud when Hayden picked up her 50th win, which was a 7-6 decision in the last 20 seconds after a throw over Jefferson City’s state-ranked Kyla Finney at the Seckman tournament late last month. Hayden has battled despite these previous two high school seasons being her only exposure on the mat, winning decision bouts like against Finney since she is competing at the 190-pound weight class at 170 pounds.

“I didn’t know she was even up that high within two seasons,” Bowen said. “I was like, ‘Dang, she racked them really quick.’”

“Knowing it was that one that was my 50th one, it makes me really happy because I don’t think I was supposed to win that,” Hayden said, laughing. “She was crazy strong and I really didn’t think I was going to make it, but I did.”

Hayden admits she likes to be hard on herself like her “sister” Bowen because she knows what she is capable of but does like the results she has earned through her hard work. With that being said, she, Bowen and the rest of the Lady Bulldogs want to shoot for more at districts Friday and Saturday at St. Charles West.

Senor said two of his seniors each earning milestone victories makes the program look good as well as the girls wrestling scene in Mexico. She said it was fitting to see Bowen pick up another program first while Hayden’s signature win was characteristic of her because of her “workhorse” approach,” which has earned her a top-10 Class 1 state ranking at 190 pounds. 

“(Hayden) is beating state qualifiers, state medalists and Class 2 girls,” Senor said. “It’s not easy, but she is able to hang with them. That’s also a testament to her drilling partner (sophomore) Alexus (Johns).

Johns was the Lady Bulldogs’ lone state qualifier a season ago and has a positive outlook heading into districts along with girls like Katie Bowen and Hayden, Abby Bowen, who was one match shy of state a season ago, and Matty Tolbert, who finished third to medal in Buffalo.

“It’s what we work for all offseason, preseason and in-season,” Senor said. “I can see us putting four to five girls in the state wrestling tournament. That is a first because we’ve only been able to qualify one girl at a time the past three years. We’re looking to qualify multiple girls and also make another milestone.”