Sego wants to honor father with memorable season

<p>Owen Sego could pay tribute to his late father before wrestling matches this season, but gestures and whispered one-sided conversations don’t accurately reflect their relationship.</p>
<p>The Indian Creek senior, a three-time semistate qualifier, lost his dad, Neil, 46, in an Oct. 3 plane crash in Michigan. Neil Sego, who planned to be the Braves’ assistant coach, was one of five persons who perished in the accident.</p>
<p>But Owen won’t be pointing to the sky after matches this season, no matter how big.</p>
<p>&quot;That’s not what he would want me to do,&quot; he said. &quot;My dad would just want me to go out and compete as hard as I possibly can and have fun. He’s always with me. I know that.&quot;</p>[sc:text-divider text-divider-title="Story continues below gallery" ]
<p>Family members and friends have attempted to make sense of Neil Sego’s passing for nearly seven weeks.</p>
<p>&quot;I’ve asked myself why, like, a million times, but we’ll never know,&quot; Owen said. &quot;It’s been pretty weird. I’m just trying to make everything as normal as I possibly can. It’s … just different.</p>
<p>&quot;But the people here have been amazing. Right when it happened there was so much love and support.&quot;</p>
<p>Before matches, Sego will think about the quote his dad told him years ago, one credited to former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson before a title match with Evander Holyfield:</p>
<p>&quot;Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.&quot;</p>
<p>And while punches aren’t allowed in wrestling, Sego, who won the 138-pound class at the Bloomington South Regional last season and finished with a 29-6 record, looks forward to incorporating such a mindset.</p>
<p>“My dad told me that before almost every match I wrestled,” Sego said. “It’s going to go through my mind every match. The ultimate goal is to be a state champ, but he always told me he didn’t care about my wins and losses as long as I tried as hard as I could and had fun.”</p>
<p>The bond between father and son grew through the years, in part because of wrestling. Neil would drive Owen to Indian Creek practices and offseason tournaments and was his son’s most ardent supporter in whatever he did.</p>
<p>“I’m way more into sports than either of my brothers ever were,” Sego said. “When I was younger, I wrestled every day, every weekend. I would be out of state almost every weekend. We would come home and talk about wrestling and watch football and wrestling on TV.”</p>
<p>Indian Creek coach Pat Dowty is impressed with how Sego continues to mature after the most painful challenge of his young life.</p>
<p>“I would say Owen is as good as can be expected. I’ve seen him grow up, and he’s done everything his dad always wanted him to do,” Dowty said. “Owen is doing a great job being a leader. I couldn’t be more impressed with how he’s handled it.”</p>[sc:pullout-title pullout-title="Scouting Johnson County’s wrestling teams" ][sc:pullout-text-begin]<p><strong>Center Grove Trojans</strong></p>
<p>Coach: Maurice Swain (second season)</p>
<p>Last season: Second at sectional, third at regional, fifth at semistate, 14th at state meet</p>
<p>Key returnees: Connor Fuhr, senior; Bryce Crump, Sam Hesser, Sam Howe, Musa Ogega and Riley Rust, juniors; Drake Buchanan, Owen Green, Michael Tharp and Hayden Watson, sophomores</p>
<p>Top newcomers: Andrew Warner, senior; Tommy Claiborne, Trey Deckard and Hyatt Yeager, freshmen</p>
<p>What to expect: Reigning 120-pound state champion Brayden Littell is out for the season due to a recent surgery on his left knee, while 106-pound semistate qualifier Tharp could miss much of his sophomore season with a broken arm. Watson, a regional runner-up at 113, and Buchanan, who placed third at regional at 138, are the Trojans’ top wrestlers to start the season. Howe, Green and Ogega made it to regional in the 152, 220 and 285 weight classes, respectively.</p>
<p><strong>Franklin Grizzly Cubs</strong></p>
<p>Coach: Jim Tonte (first season)</p>
<p>Last season: Won sectional, ninth at regional</p>
<p>Key returnees: Ethan Nash, Cash Nelson, Wyatt Strain and Isaac York, seniors; Jake Bechert, Harris Eason, Tyler Fuqua, Noah McCann, Garrett Mills and Jalen Ward, juniors; Ethan Jeffery and Dayson Lashlee, sophomores</p>
<p>Top newcomers: Tanner Kernan, sophomore; Abe Maupin and Caleb Wyss, freshmen</p>
<p>What to expect: Tonte, who has coached four teams and 12 individuals to state championships, takes over for longtime Grizzly Cubs coach Bob Hasseman, who retired last spring. Tonte inherits a squad loaded with talented juniors such as Ward and Fuqua, who advanced to semistate last season at 170 and 132 pounds, respectively. All 12 of the Cubs who made it to regional return, giving the veteran coach plenty to work with.</p>
<p><strong>Greenwood Woodmen</strong></p>
<p>Coach: Jay Yates (sixth season)</p>
<p>Last season: Fourth at sectional, 10th at regional, 15th at semistate, 18th at state meet</p>
<p>Key returnees: Jovany Sebastian and Noah Wilham, seniors; Chris Ping, Eli Ross and Anthony Walker, juniors; Zach Leber and Tyler Maxwell, sophomores</p>
<p>Top newcomers: Ethan Stover, junior; Nik Baugh, Scotty Raker and Gavin Rice, freshmen</p>
<p>What to expect: The Woodmen finished 18th at the state meet last season, the school’s best showing since 1980. Greenwood hopes to ride that momentum to another memorable campaign, with juniors Walker and Ross leading the way. Walker made it to regional at 145 pounds and is slated at 152 this season, while Ross, a regional competitor at 160, has been bumped up to 170.</p>
<p><strong>Indian Creek Braves</strong></p>
<p>Coach: Pat Dowty (eighth season)</p>
<p>Last season: Fifth sectional, eighth at regional</p>
<p>Key returnees: Cameron Elmore, Owen Sego, Jarrod Snyder and Trent Watkins, seniors; Aden Johnson, Brandon Murray, Luke Ray, Caden Ringer and Jack Waddle, sophomores</p>
<p>Top newcomers: Matt Buzzard, Connor Goforth, Jackson Heaston, Carson Ringer, Matt Ward and Chance White, freshmen</p>
<p>What to expect: Seniors Sego and Elmore made it to semistate a year ago and hope to take it a step further this season with trips to the state finals in Indianapolis. Sego, a regional champion at 138 pounds last year, moves all the way up to the 160-pound weight class, with Elmore holding at 285, where he was third at the regional.</p>
<p><strong>Whiteland Warriors</strong></p>
<p>Coach: Anthony Meister (second season)</p>
<p>Last season: Seventh at sectional, 15th at regional</p>
<p>Key returnees: Collin Johnson and Ethan Pope, juniors</p>
<p>Top newcomers: Ethan Hisayi, Jason Savin and Gilbert Tinoco, juniors; Alex Garcia, sophomore; Eli Brooks, Joey Buttler, Andre Merritt, Jakarrey Oliver and Vincent Tinoco, freshmen</p>
<p>What to expect: The Warriors take the mat without a single senior on the roster, creating quite the challenge for Meister. Whiteland must count on its junior wrestlers to provide leadership for a freshman group that could land at least five in the starting lineup.</p>[sc:pullout-text-end]