ADA — Winning a conference championship is a special accomplishment.
Notching two consecutive conference titles is extra special.
When Allen East defended its Northwest Conference wrestling title Saturday, it was quite evident this was much more than just about a team championship.
Longtime Allen East coach Mike Abbey’s facial expressions told the story.
Abbey’s son, Colten – a promising wrestler in the Allen East middle school program – passed away this past summer.
This would have been Colten’s first varsity season, competing under his father’s tutelage.
The Allen East squad, which is comprised mostly of underclassmen, has used the loss of their teammate and friend as motivation to take it to the next level this season.
“It was a good day,” a very emotional Abbey said. “I’m proud of my boys – my high school and junior high, (both NWC champions) two years in a row. I’m super proud of them. And it’s also a hard day for me, my family and all the boys. It was a tough day today, but we’re making it.
“His (Colten’s) two best friends – my 120-pounder and my 160-pounder – are both league champs today. My 160-pounder wrestled the tournament of his life. And I know Colten was right with them today. There is no doubt about it.”
Freshmen Drake Carmean (120-pounder) and Caleb Welch (160-pounder) won titles Saturday. They both expressed how much it meant to them.
“It’s just amazing – just thinking about it,” Carmean said. “Losing him in the summer and then working hard for what we deserve. …We’ve been working for this all year.”
Welch added, “It’s pretty amazing (winning the NWC title), but it just feels hard.”
Allen East sophomore Chase Caprella (27-1) won his second consecutive NWC title Saturday.
“We won last year, too,” Caprella said. “So, I’m hoping I’ll be part of a four-time league champion.”
On Saturday, Allen East defeated second-place Columbus Grove 233.5-199. Bluffton (195) finished a very close third, while Ada (147.5) was fourth. Spencerville (146), Paulding (143.5), Delphos Jefferson (127) and Lincolnview (14) rounded out the rest of the field.
“We wrestled pretty well. We had five champions today,” Abbey said. “So, that ended up making the big difference in the finals. We had a couple kids wrestle back and do really well. I think we had three seconds (second-place finishers) and five champs. We only brought 10 guys. Eight of my ten were top two. So, I’ll take that.”
Abbey was voted NWC Coach of the Year by his fellow coaches.
For Ada senior Chase Sumner (145 pounds), winning his fourth NWC title could not have happened at a better place.
Sumner ran through the competition Saturday, recording his final NWC crown in front of the home crowd. Sumner was named NWC Wrestler of the Year on Saturday.
Sumner placed eighth at last year’s Division III state tournament in the 138-pound weight class. As a sophomore, Sumner placed fourth at the state tournament at 132.
“It’s just an honor to have the opportunity to do that (win four NWC titles),” Sumner said. “It was a big thing when I won it my freshman year, and ever since then I’ve had the confidence to keep going and go get that No. 4.
“This is the first year at Ada (for NWC Championships). I’m glad this happened. It happened my senior year. This is what we wanted. It means a lot to have a full Ada crowd here, too.”
Bluffton junior Deandre Nasser (195 pounds) notched his 100th career win Saturday, when he defeated Columbus Grove’s Dakota Sargent in his final match. Saturday’s NWC title was Nasser’s third consecutive.
Nasser, a state-qualifier last season, is battling back from a shoulder injury. Nasser is focused on getting back to the state tournament, where he went 1-2.
“I want to get back and redeem myself, and hopefully get into the top three or top five,” he said.
Others winning NWC titles on Saturday were Allen East’s Lucas Freeman (138) and Garrett Neth (182), Bluffton’s Tayton Kleman (106) and James Badial-Luna (152), Columbus Grove’s Enoch Jones (170), Dylan Sargeant (220) and Jeff Meyer (285), Paulding’s Ryan Woodring (126) and Logan Mudel (132).
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.