Land of 10 has embarked on a series of Next Generation stories as Iowa writers Scott Dochterman and Bobby La Gesse travel the country to meet this year’s incoming class of freshmen. This week we visited DE Levi Duwa of Kalona, Iowa.
KALONA, Iowa — Levi Duwa was well on his way toward a season to remember before the Mid-Prairie (Iowa) senior heard cracking sounds coming from his left foot.
The night was Sept. 30, and his Golden Hawks lost a football game at Williamsburg. But those cracks Duwa heard were actually part of a tendon rupturing. Duwa had a surgery to repair the damage, and then needed another one to insert a metal plate and two screws.
His football season was over. Duwa had already accepted a scholarship offer to play defensive end at Iowa, but he wanted to help his high school team finish the season. Even worse, he lost his entire wrestling campaign, too. Duwa finished his junior year 44-4 and was the Class 2A runner-up at 220 pounds.
“It was hard to not see him compete in football, but I knew he was going to get to do that again,” said Margo Duwa, Levi’s mother. “Wrestling … that was tough. That was hard. I think I even shed some tears on that one. Just he had a very good chance of being at the top there. It was heart-wrenching to say the least. To see him struggling … he tried to be tough. He got a little bit irritable but rightly so. A lot of things were taken away from him that were out of his control.”
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Duwa quickly learned a lesson about injuries in sports. They can happen at any time, and they can take away everything for which you’ve worked. He couldn’t lift weights, so he lost strength. He couldn’t run, so he lost endurance. He couldn’t train, so he lost flexibility.
“It definitely opens your eyes a little bit,” Duwa said. “I was telling the guys before some of the games, don’t take anything for granted and work your butts off. It can be gone in the blink of an eye. I’m fortunate I still have a college career ahead of me because it could have been done right then and there. I kind of kept telling them to work their butts off because it can be over real fast.”
In some ways, Duwa said he felt guilty about what he didn’t do to prepare before the injury.
“I maybe could have worked a little harder in the weight room,” he said.
That competitive outlook returned in February when Duwa was cleared to compete in the shot put and discus in track and field. Even as he hobbled to get into shape and fashion his technique, Duwa qualified for the Drake Relays — the most prestigious track meet in the state — in the shot put. He even placed seventh in the event.
“The discus was a little hard at first,” Duwa said. “I think I’m getting used to it now. Just stability and coming back, it was hard to get that strength back in my leg.
“I guess I’m pretty fortunate for what I’ve got, I guess.”
For the complete Iowa NextGen series, click this link.