ROCKFORD — The holiday season is a time of giving.
The best Christmas gift for Parkway wrestling coach Kevin Browning has to be what he received two days early, at Saturday’s Parkway Holiday Invitational.
Parkway won Saturday’s invitational, edging out second-place Spencerville, 111.5-103. Ada (81) finished third, Toledo Start (72) came in fourth, while Delphos St. John’s (62.5) rounded out the top five teams in a 12-team field.
Saturday marked Parkway’s second tournament title for this young season. The Panthers took first at the (Lincolnview) Lancer Invitational on Dec. 9.
On Saturday, the Panthers notched just one individual title, but was balanced enough throughout the rest of the weight classes to notch the team title.
Tristen McKee, in the 106-pound weight class, was the lone champion for Parkway on Saturday. McKee, a district qualifier last season, pinned Ada’s Colton Biederman on Saturday to win the title.
“This team has really come together,” Browning said. “I’m proud of the boys. They’re working hard. Our young lady that we have at 113 (Treya Conn, fourth place) is doing an excellent job for us. When she stepped onto the mat, her idea was to keep in condition for cross country and track. I’ll tell you what; she’s decided to fight with the rest of the boys.
“We’re really enjoying everybody, top to bottom. The team has really come into their own, and I’m really proud of them.”
Browning started the wrestling program six years ago. However, Parkway wrestling has been a school-sponsored program for just the past three years. The first three years of existence, Parkway was a club program.
“It’s great to have early success,” Browning said. “When we went up to Montpelier (Dec. 3) and got second place, that was like a dream come true. After you do that, then it becomes more of an expectation. The boys are now expecting to win. And that’s what we wanted all along.”
McKee (14-3), a senior, won only four matches two years ago. Last season, McKee made it to the district tournament.
“I was pretty light for my weight class (early on),” McKee said. “I was like 70 pounds my freshman year. Then I was 90 (pounds) my sophomore year. So, I just kind of grew into the weight class. Then, all the hard work started paying off.”
Coach Browning’s son, Preston Browning, finished second at 120 on Saturday in the Round-Robin format. Preston, a sophomore, was a district qualifier as a freshman, where he went 0-2.
“I wished I would have done better as a freshman,” he said.” But, it made my work during the offseason a lot better. … I pushed a lot harder. My goal is to go to state. Those two losses that day (at districts), really fueled the fire.”
Ada’s Chase Sumner won the title at 145 on Saturday. Sumner remains undefeated at 14-0. With his four wins on Saturday, Sumner was voted by the coaches as the most valuable wrestler of the invitational.
“I just went out and got things done,” Sumner said about Saturday. “I was able to do that today. We’re really looking at the big picture (getting to the state tournament), rather than just now.”
Sumner placed eighth at last year’s Division III state tournament at 138. In 2016, as a sophomore, Sumner finished fourth at the state tournament at 132.
Delphos St. John’s freshman Chase Martin won the title at 182 on Saturday. Martin is now 15-3 on the season. Martin also won a title at the Lancer Invitational on Dec. 9.
Last year, as an eighth-grader, Martin placed sixth at the middle school state tournament at 160.
“I might stay there (at 182-pound weight class) for a couple more tournaments,” Martin said about his future plans. “By sectionals, I might drop down (in weight). I’m just taking it all in, and trying to get better at practice.”
Martin’s teammate, Justin Wieging, won the title at 195 on Saturday.
Other champions on Saturday included Antwerp’s Aidan McAlexander (113) and Randall Mills (120), Celina’s Ethan Ly (152), Hicksville’s Mason VanAtta (132), Sidney Lehman’s Ethan Knapke (170) and Collin Haller (220), Spencerville’s Brandon O’Dell (285), Toledo Start’s Hunter Schmoekel (138) and Tayon Roach (160), and Versailles’ Nick Monnier (126).
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0468.