In the world of sports, seasons can be long and grueling. Competition and practices alike are physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. But success and achievement make the efforts all worth it. Viewmont wrestler Shion Abe can testify to that.
The junior, wrestling in the 132-pound weight class for the 5A Vikings, culminated a terrific season by capturing the state title. Abe outlasted Pleasant Grove’s Derek Fisher 7-6 in the title match, held Feb. 9 at Utah Valley University. It was the second time he defeated Fisher this season.
“I didn’t know what to think,” Abe said about his immediate reflection on winning the individual state crown. “It felt like a dream. It felt really good.”
Abe entered the state tournament ranked first in his weight class, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. His first match ended with a victory by fall in 1:32. In the quarterfinals, Abe shut out West’s Jack Lang 3-0, followed by a 9-1 victory in the semifinals over Taylorsville’s Braden Henson.
“Heading into the state tournament, I thought I was definitely going into the finals,” Abe said. “I was confident throughout the tournament. My goal throughout the season was to take state. I thought about that each practice. I promised my coach (Brandon Ripplinger) that I’d take state, so I just kept going. It feels good to accomplish a goal.”
Abe posted a gaudy 41-1 record in the regular season. He would have been 41-0 but was given a loss at the Viewmont Invitational when he failed to make weight the second day of the tournament. Technicality or not, no one beat him this season.
Though he acknowledges that he had some close matches during the year, Abe had one of the most dominant seasons in the state. He tallied wins over several other dominant wrestlers throughout the state, including Wasatch's Stockton O'Brien (126-pound 4A state champ), Bear River's Holden Richards (2016 state champion in 3A) and Morgan's Carlitos Nava. His two wins over Fisher were outstanding as well since Fisher had tacked on wins over nearly everyone else in Utah, including Wasatch's 132-pound state champ, Zak Kohler.
Still, Abe is humble and hungry.
“I’ve got a lot to work on,” he said. “Next year, I want to be more dominant. I want to get my moves down.”
The season was especially satisfying for Abe, who began the season ranked behind Fisher in his weight class. Defeating the competitor who was once more regarded was the result of commitment and tireless work. Even in the title match, Abe faced some stiff challenges from Fisher, who took Abe down on one occasion, nearly winning the match.
“I was confident that I could get him back,” Abe said.
Abe’s success shouldn’t be surprising. Last season as a sophomore he placed fifth at state after being ranked third in the 132-pound division by going 39-11. Ripplinger has nothing but praise for him.
“[Abe] is a great kid and works very hard,” he said. “He deserves every award he gets. He has a quick, exciting style to watch. He is one of those wrestlers that everyone in the arena [during the state tournament] was excited to watch because he is very, very good, but also because he is just such a nice kid and has friends all over the state. A lot of people respect him.”
Emerging as the top wrestler in 5A is clearly a season highlight for Abe. He also loves being a part of the Viewmont squad and contributing to a successful year.
“We have a lively team,” he said. “We’d hang out after practice and matches. It’s nice to be friends. We had good practices and good leadership to motivate the team.”
The high school season may be over, but Abe will do anything but take it easy from now until next November. He’ll be back to work participating in conditioning, summer camps and other competition.
Abe’s goal next year is to repeat as champion. Duplicating this feat, however, won’t be easy. Not only will he have a target on his back, but realignment will put Viewmont in the same classification with Wasatch, arguably the most renowned high school wrestling program in the state over the past several years.
Not surprisingly, though, Abe is optimistic about his chances.