Steve Cowdell is considered by coaches, former competitors and fans to be one of the top high school wrestlers from Bristol. A 1970 graduate of Bristol Central, he was a four-year wrestler for the school as well as a member of the freshman football team.
He won the State Open twice in the 123-pound class, in 1969 and 1970, and was undefeated during the latter year. He was voted the outstanding wrestler at the 1970 State Open and also captured the conference title in both his junior and senior years.
Following high school, he entered the U.S. Marine Corps where he served with the First Marine Division, First Marine Air Wing. After returning from overseas he was stationed at Marine Corp Air Station, Quantico, Virginia where he was attached to the Special Services Unit and became a member of its Marine Corp Wrestling Team.