MIDDLE POINT — Last year’s high school state wrestling tournament at Ohio State left a bad taste in Chase Sumner’s mouth.
The Ada wrestling standout finished eighth in the 138-pound weight class in Division III, earning a spot on the awards podium.
For most high school wrestlers, just getting on the podium at the state tournament is a major accomplishment.
In 2016, as a sophomore, Sumner finished fourth (132 pounds) at the Division III state tournament.
However, Sumner had much higher goals set for last season.
Unfortunately for Sumner, an injury during last season’s state tournament, hampered his chances of getting higher up on the podium.
At Saturday’s Lancer Invitational at Lincolnview, Sumner showed the crowd in attendance that he was focused on making another run to the state tournament, as he won the title in the 145-pound weight class.
Saturday’s finals match for Sumner (9-0) wasn’t easy though, as Van Wert’s Isaiah Bretz battled Sumner for three periods, before Sumner managed to slip out with a hard-fought 3-2 decision over Bretz.
Sumner reflected on last year’s state tournament.
“My goal last year was to get on top of that podium,” he said. “Then, when I got hurt, it felt like all my hard work kind of went down the drain. But this year I’m coming back stronger. I’m not letting myself get hurt. I’m stretching more. I’m just making myself stronger, so I won’t get hurt.”
Sumner suffered an injury during the state tournament, which ultimately forced him to default his seventh-place match.
“I sat out on the bottom and the kid took me back and bent my ankle,” Sumner said about last season’s injury. “It was a high-ankle sprain. They say it’s worse than a break. I couldn’t even put weight on it. I had to wrestle one more match to get on the podium, and I ended up winning (the match to get to the seventh-place match).”
Sumner said he’s been putting in the hard work.
“We’ve been working it hard during the offseason. These first couple weeks with wrestling kicking in, our kids are going hard. I know I’m pushing them hard. So, I’m hoping my endurance and wanting to be on top of that podium is enough,” he said.
Sumner’s father, Jason Sumner, is Ada’s head coach. Chase says having his father as his coach has been advantageous.
“He’s been my coach ever since I was four,” Chase said. “I wouldn’t say there’s never a day off. But, you always have that guy in the back that’s asking you, ‘Did you get your workout in?’ I think it’s helped me, personally. I don’t think I would have been driven enough.”
Sumner was picked by the coaches as the most valuable wrestler of Saturday’s tournament.
In the final team standings of Saturday’s Lancer Invitational, Parkway — a program that has only been competing in school-sponsored events for three years — took home the team title, defeating second-place Ada, 232.5-209. Van Wert was a close third (207.5), while Delphos Jefferson (133) and Spencerville (129) rounded out the top five teams in a 12-team field.
Preston Browning (120), Reese Fokine (152) and Kaine Younker (160) all won titles for Parkway on Saturday.
For Parkway coach Kevin Browning, Saturday’s victory was bittersweet.
“The finals were a little crazy for us,” Browning said. “We had a couple out with injuries. But, they did really well today. I’m really excited for them.
“Six years ago, we started this program. We were last place every time we came here (Lancer Invite). Last year, we were second from the bottom (of the standings). I told the boys that I would be happy with (finishing) second from the top. Here we are, coming out champions today.”
Parkway had three years of club wrestling prior to being able to wrestle as a school-sponsored program.
What has made the last three years even more special for the Parkway coach, was having his son, Preston Browning (first, 120), there with him along the way.
“It’s been exciting to have my son come along on this ride,” Coach Browning said. “He started out as a seventh-grader. I never thought he would do that well. I think he won one match his whole seventh grade year. Last year, he was a district qualifier. This year, I have higher hopes for him. But, I don’t want to put too much pressure on him. I have to be Dad, as well as Coach.”