CONIFER — Jake Kay walked off the mat exhausted. He knew that his opponent — Conifer’s Hunter Shively — was just as tired.
“Both of us were going really hard that whole match maybe up to the last 10 seconds. By then both of us knew that it was pretty much over,” Kay said. “That was a tough one.”
Kay wouldn’t have expected it to be in any other way Dec. 1 in the finals of the Lobo Invitational at Conifer High School. The senior 138-pounder, who weighed a generous 132, he said, scored a 10-4 decision over his Conifer rival. It was one of three victories for Kay in the season-opening tournament.
His championship was the only one for the Cougars, who placed four wrestlers to finish fifth in the seven-team field with 77 points. Longmont won the team trophy with 204 points behind two titles and six finalists. Elizabeth was second with 195.5 points, while Woodland Park came in third with 125. Platte Canyon was fourth with 104, and Conifer was sixth with 67.
Kay never trailed, scoring four takedowns and two back points before Shively got a third-period reversal. It was the first takedown, though, that catapulted Kay, he said.
“I got that first takedown (and) I felt pretty confident after that,” Kay said.
Shively, though, quickly got out of Kay’s grasp to force another standing situation.
“When I got that second takedown I could kind of feel him get sloppy in his stance,” Kay said.
Evergreen’s other finalist was 120-pounder Triston Tucker. The result wasn’t as favorable for him as it was for Kay as Tucker was pinned in 3 minutes, 11 seconds by Elizabeth’s Josh Lee. Though Tucker, who reached the finals with a first-period pinfall of Woodland Park’s Micah Sanger, dropped the finale, he figured the match was close enough that it could’ve gone either way.
“It could’ve gone way different,” Tucker said. “(He) was strong. I should’ve won. We both had the same amount of technique. There were a few mistakes from both him and I.”
Unfortunately for Tucker, Lee made fewer miscues. But the Evergreen grappler was content with the start of his season. He even saw some positives in wrestling a league foe early in the year.
“I know what he’ll do on me next time, know how he shoots, know how to change that next time we wrestle,” Tucker said.
Lane Hanson overcame a semifinal-round loss to eventual 106-pound champion Tyler Erzen of Elizabeth to place third. Hanson won back-to-back consolation-bracket matches, including a 42-second pin of Woodland Park’s Drew Hovanetz. Thad Yeatts placed fourth at 170 pounds.
“Triston and Lane did excellent,” Kay said. “Their hard work is paying off, but there’s a lot more to go.”