BILLINGS — State wrestling didn’t end how Owen Lonski had anticipated.
The Sidney senior, aiming for his fourth state title, lost in the opening round. He battled his way back, though, and finished third.
“It ain’t special at all. That’s not at all what I wanted,” Lonski told MTN Sports. “I got there and lost. I could have just easily went out, but I don’t know. It turned into a thing for the team. I just wanted to do it for the guys that were behind me and supported me.”
He’s disappointed, and rightfully so, but there’s a reason he wasn’t at his best. About six weeks ago he fell ill. It lingered around before they found out it was mononucleosis, and that weighed heavily on the state’s biggest stage.
“I’ve had fevers, aches – I have – aches, fatigue unreal. I can’t explain it to you. I can run three miles in probably 18 minutes, and I don’t know if I could start running a mile. It’s tough, but it is what it is. Life sometimes hits you and sometimes you have to put your back against the wall and start swinging back,” Lonski said.
“He’s a kid that wasn’t naturally talented, wasn’t naturally gifted but he out-worked everybody all the time,” father and assistant coach Nick Lonski said. “He didn’t have a lot of early success, but smooth seas do not create good sailors. He battled through a lot of adversity, and I’m more proud of him this weekend for taking third, as sick as he was, than any state championship he could have won.”
Nick and Owen have been pretty fortunate the past four years, with Nick in the corner for Owen’s matches. You could see how special it was for the pair when they embraced following Lonski’s final match.
“My dad is my biggest supporter and he’s always there for me. We see a lot of things alike and we believe in a lot of the same things. To have him always in my corner for me, it’s amazing. It sucks that I don’t get to take him with me next year (to the University of Mary),” Owen said.
“After that first round match I didn’t know if we were going to win another match,” Nick said. “He’s got more heart than any kid I’ve ever seen in my life. He fights. It doesn’t matter what position you put him in. That’s just what he’s done throughout his career. I look forward to watching him next year in college and look forward to what he does in life. I hope that he comes back to Sidney and coaches and can have a whole bunch of grandkids for me that do the same thing he does.”
A bout with mono may have derailed Lonski’s chances to get into Montana’s history books, but he earned a lot of respect with his approach this weekend.