Mike Owen grew up in Ames. His dad was a faculty member for the Atomic Energy Commission during the “Little Ankeny Project.”
“I grew up one house down from David Staniforth,” says Owen. “I started working on his crew in high school.”
After high school, he became a botany major at Iowa State. In 1970 he left Iowa State for a wrestling scholarship at another university. Due to an injury he gave up the scholarship and was drafted for the Vietnam War in 1971. Owen did a pre-induction physical and was accepted into the Army. He returned to Iowa State Spring Semester of 1971 and regained his student deferment.