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  • #MondayMatness with Steve Krah: Tiny Cowan clicking along after pausing program for several years

    By Y2CJ41
    Published in 



    Wrestling has come back in a big way at a little school.


    Cowan Senior/Junior High School in Delaware County folded its program following the 1994-95 for lack of interest.


    As a Muncie Southside High School senior in 1989-90, Tony Abbott went 35-2 and was the IHSAA 152-pound state champion, grappled for the University of Indianapolis, served as head coach at Southside 1995-96 to 2012-13 and was inducted into the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame in 2017.


    “I started coaching my first year out of college,” says Abbott, who also owns Abbott’s Body Shop in Muncie. “I’ve had no break since I was six years old.”


    With Abbott as Cowan head coach, the Blackhawks came back to the prep mat in 2016-17 — a few years after establishing club (which drew about 50 kids the first year and around 60 the next) and junior high programs with all athletes funneling into CSJHS. That happened with the advice of former Muncie Central mat coach and then-Cowan principal Jim Suding and the support of parents.


    That first new era high school team had four wrestlers and the next year six. By 2018-19, Cowan had 14 grapplers and filled all 14 weight classes. The Blackhawks had 25 out the next season, including oldest son Toby, and the numbers have been at least that high in each season since then.


    “We started having a little bit of success,” says Abbott. “There’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears. The fun part of this whole team is that every one of the kids on my team have been Cowan kids in that club.


    “We have 27 kids on the team right now. These kids were just kids and didn’t have anything to do. Now they’e wrestlers.


    “They’re embracing the grind. The secret to success is there’s no secret. You’ve got to keep moving forward.”


    Those wrestlers representing the Black and Gold of Cowan (enrollment below 250) won the Delaware County Tournament for the first time and claimed the school’s first sectional title (earned at Delta) in 2020-21. The Blackhawks placed fourth in the IHSCA State Duals.


    As a 145-pound junior, Toby Abbott became Cowan’s first-ever regional champion and state placer (eighth).


    “It happened later than I wanted it to,” says Toby of his state meet run. “I wanted to do it all freshmen and sophomore year.


    “I didn’t have too many losses during the season. But it’s a good thing I did have the losses. I leaned from them.”


    Abbott finished 33-5.


    “At Cowan, we’re all-around wrestlers,” says Toby. “We wrestle hard and train hard.”


    Toby, who also has three siblings — one older sister, one young sister and one young brother — says he would like to wrestle in college. He’s not decided on where he will attend or what he will study, though he is considering sports management or physical education.


    What does Tony see in Toby the wrestler?


    “He’s guy that everybody wants to coach,” says Tony Abbott. “He does what you tell him and he works hard.


    “All the Cowan kids were brought up by me. They didn’t see older guys sitting around or cutting corners.”


    A year-round wrestler with younger brother Levi (Class of 2024), Toby works out in the family barn, attends Central Indiana Academy workouts in Indianapolis and last summer went with a Cowan group to the Virginia Beach Duals.


    “We wrestle everyday,” says Toby of he and Levi, who placed fourth at sectional and was a regional qualifier at 138 as a freshman. “He’s my practice partner in the room (the third court in the auxiliary gym where mats are no longer rolled up daily). I get him where he wants to be and he gets me where I want to be.


    “We get along pretty well. My dad tries to make it pretty competitive in the room. All the coaches do.”


    Cowan assistants are Casey Bradley (who wrestled at Muncie Southside and coached at Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, Ohio), former Delta state qualifier Ronnie Goney and Cowan semistate qualifier Steve May.


    Three seniors graduated from the 2020-21 Blackhawks – Garrett Smith (second at the Delta Sectional and Jay County Regional and a Fort Wayne Semistate qualifier at 285), Keagan Keesling (third at sectional and a regional qualifier at 152) and Preston White (third at sectional and a regional qualifier at 132).


    Cowan does not open the season until a Dec. 2 home match against Blackford so weights and the lineup is still being sorted out.


    The Keith twins — Raef (third at sectional and regional and a semistate qualifier at 106 in 2020-21) and Bowen (third at sectional and a regional qualifier at 113) shined as freshmen and are back as sophomores.


    Junior Jesse May (fourth at sectional and a regional qualifier at 126) returns as does senior Austin Jones (first at sectional, second at regional and a semistate qualifier at 160), senior Malachi King (fifth at sectional at 170), senior Dalton May (fourth at sectional and a regional qualifier at 182) and junior Brandt Thornburg (fourth at sectional and a regional qualifier at 220). Regional qualifiers from 2019-20 include senior Cade Jones and junior Alex King.


    There are two girls on the high school team and one is senior Cricket Morey (fifth at Girls State Finals at 98 in 2020-21).


    The 2021-22 Delaware County Tournament is slated for Jan. 6 at Wes-Del with the IHSWCA State Duals Jan. 8 (site to be determined) and Mid-Eastern Conference Tournament Jan. 22 at Cowan. The Blackhawks’ state tournament series includes the Delta Sectional (Jan. 29), Jay County Regional (Feb. 5) and Fort Wayne Semistate (Feb. 12) leading up to the State Finals (Feb. 18-19).


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    Great article...  One correction, it is Casey Bradley...


    But I like the sound of Case, so I think I will call him that for the foreseeable future....  lol

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