By STEVE KRAH
Tested regularly by the best from the Calumet Region and the state, Colton Cummings has become Lowell High School wrestling’s latest “face of the program.”
Cummings has gotten plenty of attention as a two-time IHSAA state champion (at 106 pounds as a sophomore in 2015 and 113 as a junior in 2016) and three-time State Finals performer (he was a qualifier at 106 as a freshman in 2014).
“I’m a fighter,” Cummings said. “I’ll just keep coming at you no matter what. I’ve been taught that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
He knows that he came into the 2016-17 season with the proverbial target on his back and he does not back down from that.
“If you’re on top, you’ve always got to have a target,” Cummings said. “If you don’t have a target, you’re not doing your job correctly.”
His off-season training included sessions with CIA and Region wrestling academies.
“You’ve got to put in the work,” Cummings said. “The Region’s pretty solid.”
Now a 126-pounder and a verbal commit to West Point, Cummings spent the early portions of this season ranked No. 1 in Indiana. Among his wins are a pin of Prairie Heights senior Riley Rasler and a decision against Bellmont senior Jon Becker.
Cummings dropped to No. 3 after losing 4-2 to Columbus East junior Graham Rooks in the finals of Mishawaka’s Al Smith Classic. Cummings was trying to become the fourth four-time Al Smith champion in 40 years after 2016 Lowell graduate Drew Hughes became the third four-time winner a year ago.
Hughes, now a Michigan State University, was a four-time state placer for the Lowell Red Devils (second at 120 in 2013, fifth at 138 in 2014, first at 160 in 2015 and first at 170 in 2016).
“We have been very, very fortunate in our program for the last five years now to have Hughes come through and have Colton come through,” Lowell head coach Bobby Howard said. “I talk to the kids all the time about how much they need to take advantage of that. They get to be around him everyday and watch how he practices, watch how he goes about his business at tournaments. That’s huge.”
Wanting to get the most out of his wrestlers, Howard aims for them to peak at the right time. As the postseason approaches, Lowell workouts are intense but short. The focus is placed on rest, recovery and nutrition.
“I’ve been fortunate enough the last couple years to hit the peak at a good time,” Howard said. “I don’t know if there’s some luck involved, but we’re going to continue doing what we have been doing.”
Howard, who enjoyed plenty of mat success himself (winning three national titles by age 8, two Al Smith Classic crowns, placing fifth at senior nationals and finishing fifth at 112 and first at 119 in the IHSAA State Finals for Lowell in 1999 and 2000), said with hard work and following the instruction of the coaching staff, his up-and-coming Red Devils could be the next Hughes or Cummings.
“That’s the carrot we dangle,” Howard, a coach for 11 years, said. “That’s what we tell them, ‘who’s going to be next?’ ‘Who’s going to be the next face of this program?
“Right now it’s Colton.”
Cummings is sure someone is up for the challenge. Perhaps sophomore Andres Moreno or freshman Shawn Hollis or a non-ranked Red Devil?
“We have a great team this year,” Cummings said. “We have plenty of people who could come up and take Drew and my spot easily.”
Like many wrestlers, Cummings came to the sport as a young kid.
It didn’t go that smoothly for him.
“I was so small I wrestled up like five weight classes and I was getting creamed,” Cummings said. “I said, ‘I’m done.’ I got talked back into it in sixth grade. I’ve been going from there.”
What makes Cummings so good?
“He’s just an all-around tough kid,” Howard said. “When he was younger he wrestled with older kids. They didn’t take it easy on him.
“He’s got a motor that very few people can keep up with.”
Cummings regularly works out with assistant coach Cameryn Brady, a two-time Division II All-American at the University of Indianapolis. Brady is about 40 pounds heavier than Cummings.
Growing up in the woods around Lowell, Cummings said he would like to study biology and environmental science in college. It looks like he will be doing that on the “Banks of the Hudson” in New York at the United States Military Academy (West Point).
“It’s one of the more prestigious schools in the country,” Cummings said. “It’s kind of an honor to go there.”
- by Y2CJ41
Michigan State Earns Wrestler of the Week Plaudit
Spartans’ Hughes picks up the honor after winning four matches at the Reno Tournament of Champions
Wrestler of the Week
Drew Hughes, Michigan State
165 pounds – Fr. – Lowell, Ind. – Lowell
- Helped lead the Spartans to a second-place finish at the Reno Tournament of Champions
- The unranked wrestler picked up three technical falls before earning a 2-0 sudden victory win over 12th-ranked Branson Ashworth of Wyoming
- Earns the first Wrestler of the Week Award of his career
- Last Michigan State Wrestler of the Week: Michael McClure (Dec. 18, 2012)
2016-17 Wrestlers of the Week
Nov. 8: Connor Medbery, Sr., WIS
Nov. 15: Connor Medbery, Sr., WIS
Nov. 22: Kyle Snyder, Jr., OSU
Nov. 29: Brett Pfarr, Sr., MINN
Dec. 6: Logan Massa, Fr., MICH
Dec. 13: Anthony Rubinetti, Fr., NU
Dec. 20: Drew Hughes, Fr., MSU
- by Y2CJ41
Brought to you by EI Sports
By JEREMY HINES
Drew Hughes has already had the type of high school wrestling career many dream of. He finished second in the state his freshman season and fifth last year. But Hughes is far from satisfied.
Hughes doesn’t aim for fifth place. His goal is a championship — nothing less.
Hughes sets the bar high for himself. Anything less than a state championship will be a disappointment.
Last state tournament might have been a turning point in Hughes’ career. He had beaten Lawrence North’s Tommy Cash and Merriville’s Jacob Covaciu during the season. He topped Cash 4-0 and Covaciu by technical fall. But after he was pinned in the first minute of the second round of state by Center Grove senior Tyler Fleener (via the spladle), he had to watch Cash claim the 138-pound title with a 5-3 decision over Covaciu.
“That has motivated me,” Hughes said. “The fact that I was there just watching, and not being out there wrestling in the finals pushes me every day. I realized I had to get better on my feet. I needed to work harder on my all-around technique.”
Hughes has done just that.
Hughes is one of the best in the state from the top position. He can turn almost anyone he faces. But now he’s added a new dimension to his repertoire. He has greatly improved his attacks from the neutral position. He has become more confident on his feet.
The improved performance on his feet has led to a 13-0 start to the season for the Lowell junior. He has not given up a point, and has pinned all 13 wrestlers who have stepped on the mat against him.
“My goal is a state title,” Hughes said. “But I also want to go through the year without getting scored on, and by pinning everyone I face.”
Hughes is currently the top-ranked 160 pounder in the state. The No. 2-ranked grappler at 160, Crown Point’s Darden Schurg, is one Hughes will likely see several times during the tourney. The two are in the same sectional, regional and semistate.
“We have grown up wrestling each other,” Hughes said. “We have wrestled each other since we were 8-years old.”
Inside the Lowell wrestling room, Hughes has been training with Eric McGill, a former two-time state champion for Munster High School. He won the 125-pound class as a junior and 140 as a senior. McGill went on to wrestle for Cornell University.
“I wrestle with him quite a bit,” McGill said. “.He has good practice partners, but most of the live wrestling is done with me. When he was smaller I could beat him. Now he’s bigger and he’s getting the better of me. It’s fun, but he’s a beast now.”
Hughes has great respect for McGill.
“He has been a really good influence on me,” Hughes said. “He’s one of the best partners you could have.”
Hughes’ older brother Kenny has also been a good influence. Kenny was ranked No. 2 last year at 160 pounds. He lost in the same round of state as Drew, and ended up finishing seventh.
Hughes has jumped from the 120 pound class as a freshman, to 160 now. This year he isn’t having to cut weight, unlike past seasons. That decision has allowed this year to be his most fun so far.
“I love wrestling because it’s a fun sport,” Hughes said. “And when you’re not cutting weight you’re not in that bad mood that cutting can some times lead to. I’m able to focus a lot more on wrestling now.”
With weight no longer an issue, Hughes is concentrating on getting back under the lights. His freshman year he was defeated by Warren Central’s Deondre Wilson 6-2 in the championship match at 120 pounds.
“I was hoping I was going to be wresting for a title last year,” Hughes said. “But I remember as a freshman that it was a great experience. Looking back I know I was a little shocked to be there wrestling under the lights. I really felt I could have won, but I froze up. If I get there again, I’m not going to get so caught up with the atmosphere. I’m going to go out and do what I do, and just wrestle.”
- by Y2CJ41