Aho establishes legacy on the matPublished 10:36am Thursday, February 21, 2013
It takes a special dedication to commit to something for six years, especially at a young age. But for Otter wrestler Abbot Aho, six years is only part of it.
Aho, a senior, will end this season with his name under most of the record charts that hang in the wrestling room at Kennedy Secondary School. Most impressive of all is his recent milestone of reaching 180 career wins, breaking the school record in that category.
“He’s the most decorated athlete this program has had,” said head wrestling coach Adam Schlepp, who started as an assistant when Aho first wrestled varsity as a seventh grader. “His stats speak for themselves; his wrestling does the talking.”
Wrestling has been in the Aho family for years. His father, Mark Aho, has been a long time wrestling coach in Fergus Falls and is in his first year as an assistant. Before that, he was the head coach for Abbot’s first six years at the varsity level.
Coach Aho comes from a wrestling family and had Abbot and his younger brother Abram, a junior on the team, wrestling early in life. He took Abbot to his first wrestling tournament at the age of four and brought Abraham, who was two at the time, along to watch. The two have grown up on mats ever since.
It has been a unique opportunity to coach his sons and to watch Abbot reach a level of maturity and leadership in his final season. As they approach the end of the year, he hopes Abbot can make a run at a state tournament, but knows his son has gained more from the dedication and discipline the sport requires than the records and victories.
“When you’ve done something for a long time, you want to end on a positive note,” Mark Aho said. “But whether Abbot wins the state tournament or doesn’t even make it there, it’s been good.”
Of course, Aho has set his sights on the state tournament and hopes to continue an undefeated streak he’s had through the year. But for the last several weeks of this season, Aho’s focus was on his team’s success at the Section 8AA team tournament.
After a dedicated week before the event, the Otters won their first dual over Staples-Motley and wrestled rival Detroit Lakes to a close 34-31 loss in the quarterfinals. Despite coming up short, the team was proud of the effort they gave.
“We turned it up when we had to,” said Aho. “We practiced hard for the week and did well.”
Aho will work to stay healthy until he hopefully competes in the state tournament. But as the end nears, each victory comes bittersweet.
“I’ll miss it a lot, wrestling with all these guys,” said Aho.
He also recognizes the opportunity he’s had to connect over his time in high school with the Fergus community that cherishes its wrestling program.
“The support is great. Everyone is so positive about everything.”
While he is proud to hang his name on the record wall, Aho will carry the dedication of the last six years, of his entire life, with him as he makes his way through the future.
“Wrestling is more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle. Once you’ve wrestled everything in life is easy.”
Aho will look to return to the Class AA state tournament for the fourth straight time as he competes in front of a home crowd in the Section 8AA tournament Friday and Saturday.
Competing in the 113 lbs. weight class, Aho finished in sixth place last season and placed third two years ago. This season, Aho has wrestled in the 120 lbs. weight class, but will look to make his final season as an Otter wrestle his best yet.