BY DENNIS SILVA II | email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mere hours after winning his third consecutive Class 6A state wrestling championship, Katy High senior Daniel Manibog was in a car, driving with his father Dean and Katy coach Vinnie Lowe on 1 ½-hours of sleep to go watch the duel between No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 3 Iowa in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Manibog rode an emotional high after becoming the 14th wrestler in UIL history to win three state titles and the second at Katy, following James Aston (2003-2005).
“I never met him,” Manibog said of Aston, “but Coach Lowe coached him before I got here, so he would tell me about him. James got fifth (at state) as a freshman, too, so ever since I did that myself, I wanted to match what he did.”
However, not even six hours after wrapping up his state championship, Manibog was looking forward to the next chapter of his athletic career as a Cowboy at Oklahoma State, taking in the match on February 24.
“It was awesome,” Manibog said of watching the “biggest rivalry in college wrestling.” “I’m super excited that I can be a part of that the next five years.”
Before he departs southwest Houston for Oklahoma in June, though, Manibog leaves as one of the most decorated athletes at Katy.
He capped off a 56-0 senior season with a 25-9 win over Cypress Ranch’s Zack Good in the 160-pound class state final on February 23. Manibog finished his career with 220-12 record.
Manibog won titles in the 138-pound and 145-pound classes, respectively, the previous two years. He will compete in the 165-pound class at Oklahoma State.
And while he may be leaving Katy High, the family legacy won’t. Daniel’s younger brother, Jeremy, will be a freshman next year.
“Since we’re so far apart in age, it’s more like a coach-athlete relationship,” Manibog said of the dynamic between him and Jeremy. “I want to make him better than I was.”
That bar is pretty high, no?
“He’s a way better wrestler on top and he can ride legs,” Manibog said. “I never got that. I just try to help him with the techniques I like and the ones I know work.”
Manibog recently chatted with 281 Sports Unlimited to discuss more about his storied career as a Tiger.
Q: Now that you’ve had some time since the season ended, what are your thoughts in looking back at your career at Katy?
A: “I have to thank God for allowing me to do that. He gave me an opportunity, and that was my goal ever since I got to Katy as a freshman. I wanted to be a three-time state champion, and I feel like all my hard work paid off for what I wanted to do.”
Q: How did this third state title stack up against the first two?
A: “The first one is super exciting because I’d never won state before. The second one was exciting, too, because I ended it pretty fast. This one was exciting, but also sad because it was my senior year. I really reflected on everything. It was happy and sad. I just enjoyed the moment. I felt my mission was accomplished.”
Q: How did you feel you fared competing at a higher weight class this year?
A: “Going up 15 pounds, I thought it’d be harder for me to keep up with everyone’s strength. But it wasn’t that bad at all. I didn’t feel overpowered by anyone this year, and I actually felt a lot faster than competing in the lighter weight classes.”
Q: What has been the influence of Coach Lowe, and what has that relationship been like for your success?
A: “I’ve known Coach Lowe since kindergarten. When we moved to Texas, my dad emailed him to ask if there were youth wrestling clubs around. He had one, and our relationship started there. He’s a second father to me. He’s one of the best coaches around. He has to be. He believes in letting you work on your own and handle your business, to grow and mature in the work. It was always comforting to see him in the corner at my matches. He always knew what to say at the right time.”