The Mid-Prairie wrestling team came together on Saturday to play some games and hang out as a family.
It started with dodgeball and turned into playing whatever wrestling room games came to mind. That eventually turned to the wrestlers laying with their backs on the mat, tired and out of breath, wondering how they become so out of shape after the season. What the moment needed was a joke from Colton Allen.
“That’s just the way he was, always looking to make a joke and make people laugh,” said Isaac Boucher, his wrestling practice partner and friend.
Colton Allen died June 5. The cause of death has not been released yet. He was last seen heading to a pond to go swimming during a gathering to celebrate the end of the school year.
The Mid-Prairie community had already been struck by tragedy earlier in the year with the death of Blake Haman, a student in the district, in March. Haman was Colton Allen’s cousin. In that aftermath, Colton’s longtime friend Jack Baker said he had been one of the most helpful in helping people remember the good times.
“He was the one cracking jokes about fun moments we had with Blake and that helped a lot for me,” Baker said.
So now with Colton gone, those same friends and family are missing his ability to brighten the day. Since his death last week, friends and family have gathered to piece together memories and moments that stick out about the 16-year-old they knew and loved. Almost all of those memories draw back to his ability to make people smile and laugh.
“He was almost always looking for mischief,” Mid-Prairie wrestling coach Justin Garvey said. “Not maliciously, but he was just ornery.”
Colton was the one guy in the wrestling room that could lighten the mood during a tough practice, Garvey said, and his ability to still give 100 percent while joking around made him a special kid. That balance made Garvey think about how to incorporate that attitude into the team.
“There were some days I wanted to smack him in the head because we’d be having a serious conversation and everybody would start laughing at something he said,” Garvey said. “It helped me as a coach to not always be so serious and that wrestling is about having fun.”
Boucher said he remembered those grueling practices and how Allen brightened the room. As they took laps around the wrestling room, with the heat turned up and their legs tiring, Colton would yell to teammates “just smile” and make a contorted, funny face with a smile. Boucher said moments like those kept practice bearable.
It wasn’t all roses though, because as a freshman Colton was stuck on the depth chart behind some strong wrestlers who often made practice tough for him. Garvey encouraged him to stick it out and that paid off. He turned that tough freshman year into becoming a district qualifier his junior year and just one match from the individual state tournament.
Allen had a busy life and was always doing something whether that was working, sports or spending time with friends and family. He was an avid outdoorsman, loving to spend time fishing, hunting and riding his horse.
“He loved to fish and hunt rabbits with his brother. Ride four wheelers,” Boucher said. “You’d call Colton, and he’d say, ’Oh I’m going down to Missouri this weekend to go camping and ride horses.’”
Allen and his twin brother Cory were set to be seniors this fall. He has two older sisters, Amanda Kubo and Tasha Allen. His parents are Tabitha and Joseph Allen.
On the serious side, Colton was the friend always willing to lend a hand when needed. Baker remembered this past winter when he got stuck on a gravel road in the piling snow and brutal cold one night. Colton eagerly raced off on his four wheeler to help dig out Jack’s truck, all without a second thought.
“I remember it was just so cold out, but he came to help,” Baker said.
He supported those around him, and Garvey said that type of attitude was crucial for the team.
“He was the teammate you always wanted, kind of like an assistant coach,” Garvey said.
Allen worked as a farm hand for Whetstine Farms and for Catherine Thompson, while also picking up side work when he could between school, football, wrestling and offseason workouts. Many said that there was never a dull moment with him, he was always doing something.
There will be more moments like that in the wrestling room this past weekend, where the silence fills the room that had usually been filled by Colton’s jokes. The first day of school, his birthday and as Mid-Prairie takes the football field this fall will be somber moments for his Mid-Prairie family.
One of those moments will be this Thursday as the community gathers at Mid-Prairie High School for a celebration of life.
“People should know he was happy,” Baker said. “Happy with his friends and with his family.
A memorial fund has been established for Colton Allen at Hill’s Bank in Wellman. Cash or checks can be brought in or checks mailed to 229 8th Ave SE, Wellman, Iowa, 52356.