Abell named Region 4A Wrestling Coach of the Year

Mike Abell, Sturgis varsity wrestling coach was honored by the South Dakota Wrestling Coaches Association as the 2020-2021 Region 4A Coach of the Year.  Pioneer photo by Tim Potts

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STURGIS — Surgis Brown High School’s Mike Abell was recently honored by the South Dakota Wrestling Coaches Association as the 2020-2021 Region 4A Coach of the Year.

Abell, the Scoopers head wrestling coach talked about winning the award.

“Things like this aren’t possible unless you surround yourself with good people. Since coming to Sturgis, I have continued to bring in people to help our program and kids. We have some of the best coaches in the state hands down,” said Abell. “Steve Keszler, Jason Schlichtemeier, Sean Bice, Rance Sivertsen, and Ashley Abell all put in countless hours to help get kids where they needed to be. I can’t thank those people enough. These kids are extremely lucky to have such a great group of role models supporting them along their journey.”

Abell was proud of how the team performed this season.

 “The kids wrestled their hearts out this year, and we made the best of what we had at the end of the year. We were missing some kids from the beginning of the year but that didn’t stop our kids from achieving what we believed we could do,” said Abell. “Leading up to the state tourney we had things going in the right direction, kids were excited and having fun in the room and it was showcased at the region tournament. Our team wrestled free and got some momentum early and rallied behind one another and qualified 13 individuals for the state tournament and earned a region runner up trophy along the way.”

Abell went on to say that going into the state tourney the team knew the challenge and accepted it. The Scoopers were underdogs to take home a trophy, but they didn’t let doubt step in their way.

“Our kids came in and cut loose as we hoped they would. They met or exceeded every one of our seeds at the state tourney and that is not easy to do. At the end of the day, the Scoopers had seven state place winners and a sixth-place team trophy, it capped off a crazy year of ups and downs but left our young kids hungry for more sucess. The team is excited for the future,” Abell said.

Wren Jacobs, the 160-pound state Champion shared his thoughts on Abell.  

“I can’t say enough, Mike Abell has been coaching me since freshman year. I can’t thank him enough for the countless life lessons and unforgettable experiences. If it wasn’t for Abell, I don’t think I would have accomplished my goal of winning a state title,” said Jacobs. “When he first came into the room, he was pretty light on the practices compared to the intense Keszler practices. But after the first year, with having both Abell and Keszler, it was like a double edged sword. We had the great technique and wrestling skills from Abell, and the well-conditioned lungs from Kez.”

Jacobs added, “Overall, I can’t say enough for how lucky I was to have Mike Abell as my wrestling coach.”

Todd Palmer, Sturgis Brown High School’s athletic director commented on Abell’s award.  

“A well-deserved award for Coach Abell. He worked hard to deal with the COVID issues and adversity that the team faced this year to get the group on the podium and bring home a team plaque.  Abell has worked hard at building the numbers of our program during the time that he has been the head coach,” said Palmer. “Those numbers provide us with depth which came into play this year when wrestlers went down with injuries and were not able to finish the season.”

Robert Merwin, a senior state qualifier wrestler for Sturgis Brown said Abell deserved the award.

“I think Coach Abell deserves to be region coach of the year because he pushes us to our limits, even when we don’t think we can go anymore he pushes us to be our best.  He has been my coach for four years, and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of his team and I wouldn’t want to compete on anyone else’s team. He helped me over the years to be the very best I could be and I appreciate him for that and overall he is a very good coach,” Merwin said.

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