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Mishawaka?s Abu-shehab turns tragedy into triumph

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High school wrestling: Mishawaka?s Abu-shehab turns tragedy into triumph





GREENWOOD, Ind. ? Thirty minutes before the biggest ? and last ? match of his life Saturday, Danny Abu-shehab couldn't have cared less about wrestling.


Mishawaka High's senior 189-pounder bolted from his team to tend to family.


Team state championship showdown with Yorktown? So what? A season's worth of work on the line? Doesn't matter.


This was family.


Danny's grandfather, 71-year-old Ray Webster of Mishawaka, collapsed in the cheering section while the Cavemen's bid for a state title was still in doubt. Medical personnel rushed to aid Webster, who has a history of heart problems.


This was no casual fan. This is a fella, a year removed from a stroke and equipped with an internal defibrillator, who has followed the Cavemen to all their matches. Five-hour rides? No problem.


"I was ready to freak out," Abu-shehab said. "He's the guy who has coached me in wrestling and football all my life. It was pretty emotional for me. I was pretty distraught.


"When my grandfather came around, he told me, 'The team needs you. Go out and do your job.'"


He did ? and then some.


Abu-shehab, who made history this season by being the first individual state qualifier with 20 losses (he finished with a 27-21 record), got the job done. Thirty-one seconds into the second period, Abu-shehab pinned Grant Brown (37-11), supplying Mishawaka with the necessary points to clinch the title.


"Before he went out there, Danny told me, 'You better call Child Protective Services, I'm gonna abuse that kid,'" said Mishawaka athletic director Bob Shriner. "I knew he was ready."


"At first, we didn't know what had happened," Mishawaka coach Darrick Snyder said of the confusion in the stands. "Once we found out it was Danny's grandfather, our next focus was to see where his head was."


Teammates and coaches coaxed Abu-shehab out of the stands and back to the bench. He was surrounded with support.


"We were all concerned with keeping Danny focused," said Cavemen assistant Fabian Chavez. "I looked him in the eye, and he said, 'I'm good; I'm ready.' You could see. He was hungry."


"Danny's a senior," Snyder said. "If he wanted to wrestle, it was his call."


"The coaches were talking with me, but I didn't understand why they were worried about me," Abu-shehab said. "I wanted to be part of this. I wanted to be in this.?


Years of constant drilling prepared Abu-shehab for that special moment. Snyder replayed the technical portion of the pin. Something about a ?front headlock and a sucker drag.?


Whatever the case, it comes down to Abu-shehab having a split-second in this predicament when Brown was out of position.


?We work on that scenario all the time,? Snyder said. ?Danny recognized it and found the opening.?


?I knew the only way I?d feel good was if I?d beat (Brown) and beat him hard,? Abu-shehab said. ?I?m used to wrestling strong kids, so that didn?t bother me.


?He looked tired (starting the second period). I knew he was tired. I remembered what I?d gone through to get here. I knew I?d worked harder than him. I wasn?t tired.?


Abu-shehab leveraged his way to the win. A ?torque of the hip? and a quick reversal and ? smack! ? a pin. A victory. A state championship.


Next order of business: Shake hands; hug teammates; call mom.


?I found out my grandfather was doing well (in the hospital),? Abu-shehab said.


He didn?t leave Center Grove High with his teammates. Instead, Abu-shehab had a delivery to make to his grandfather.


?This medal belongs to him,? he said, pulling the blue ribbon and gold medallion from his neck.


It?s all about family. Cavemen family.

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