The whole height thing has never really bothered Jacob Abbott.
He was perfectly fine being 5-foot-5, well, at least until his middle school sister sprouted.
"I was like, 'What the heck?'" the New Prairie junior said. "My mom's short, my dad's 6-foot tall, but he didn't have his growth spurt until after high school, so that's what will probably happen to me."
One of the great things about wrestling is it's a sport for all shapes and sizes. Abbott's brothers, Devin and Eric, both of similar stature to Jacob, wrestled for the Cougars, and he was naturally drawn into wrestling at the club level early in elementary school.
"I just fell in love with it," said Abbott, who may also follow Devin into the welding trade. "I like that you're the only one out on the mat. It's up to me how I do. There really isn't anyone else."
After seeing varsity time at 126 pounds as a freshman, Abbott was in line to hold down the 120 spot last season, but he tore his labrum toward the end of his ninth-grade year.
"I think I did it in practice," he said. "It started bothering me. It affected my movement, but I kept wrestling. After the season, I went to the doctor."
Abbott had surgery to repair the labrum just after the end of the school year. He spent six weeks in a sling, then began a rehab/recovery process, working with a physical therapist. He received his medical clearance to return in January and wrestled in the sectional, finishing second at 120 pounds, then lost in the first round of the regional to finish 10-7.
"My shoulder was still a little weak. Toward the end, it was getting better," Abbott said. "It's all good now. I definitely feel like I'm in better shape compared to last year."
As the Cougars opened their season Tuesday, Abbott was slotted in at 120 again.
"He's a natural 120," NP coach Bobby Whitenack said. "He's built really strong, a powerful kid. He's a real go-getter. He works hard in practice and in the weight room. He's real dedicated and pushes himself, just a solid kid who does what you ask."
Since he works out regularly, Abbott sticks to a high-protein diet to maintain his weight. His typical lunch is a ham-and-cheese sandwich with a granola bar and plenty of water. He rewards himself with a cookie for dessert.
"I try to cut out pop during wrestling," he said. "I normally weigh about 122, so it's not a big cut."
With the shoulder back to full strength and a full season ahead of him, Abbott is optimistic about going a little deeper in the tournament as a junior.
"I'm better on my feet, on top. That's my strong suit," he said. "I just have to keep drilling my moves so I'm good with them. I just have to go out and wrestle each match, try my best and see how far I can make it."
One of the older wrestlers in a New Prairie lineup that will have a fair share of freshmen and sophomores, Abbott will be a leader for the Cougars, albeit a quiet one.
"He keeps to himself, but he'll be a leader by example with his work ethic," Whitenack said. "He's a good practice partner. He's just one of those guys you want to have on the team, in the program."