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EHS faces issue with experience, numbers

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State qualifier Kay leads Cougars going into 2012-13 season

By Michael Hicks

As Evergreen’s lone returning 4A state qualifier from the 2011-12 wrestling season, Jake Kay took it upon himself to be a leader for this year’s squad. It was nothing for the senior 126 pounder to set up two-a-day practices during the offseason, even on the first day of school back in August. After all, he knows a little something about success.
“He, by far, does that really well,” Evergreen head coach Lane Williams said of Kay being a leader. Kay is a three-year team captain. “He was organizing practices all fall. I wouldn’t get here until 4 o’clock and he would already have the guys working out and doing drills. He was just leading the way. He was taking a lot of guys who were needing help and showing them moves and getting them that experience. Then I would have to wrestle him just to get him some competition.”
Kay’s experience will be invaluable for a Cougars team that will suit up just 12 wrestlers for the 2012-13 season, which begins Nov. 29 at Valor Christian. He’s hoping that his 50 varsity wins the past two years, including 28 by pinfall, will show his younger teammates what it takes to succeed.
“Winning matches is an important thing. I think for most of the kids that is what they look at,” said Kay, a two-time 4A Jeffco League champion and all-conference selection. “They’ve seen Josh’s (Karnath) success last year and my success and I think they just incorporate that and see what we do.”
That said, Williams expects Evergreen to take a few lumps and suffer through some hard knocks. That’s expected considering the team’s relative inexperience. But that doesn’t mean the cupboards are totally bare.
Williams is hopeful that an injury-proned Kay, who wrestled for much of the offseason, can take that next step to be a top two or three competitor at state, while teammates Triston Tucker and Lane Hanson will join Kay at state. Williams said that Hanson, a 106-pound sophomore, should be more competitive at a weight class that was dominated a year ago by heavier grapplers, while Tucker is doing all he can to take advantage of Kay’s expertise.
Tucker, a 120-pound junior, has been working out with Kay during most of the team’s preseason practices in hopes of getting tougher.
“Jake’s been tough on me, and I’m still learning from him,” Tucker said. “I’m going to set goals thru the whole season and don’t quit so I can go to state for sure. I need to get stronger. Hopefully with all these practices I will be able to go to state this year. That’s my motivation this year.”

EVERGREEN COUGARS
Head coach: Lane Williams
Assistant coaches: Andrew Speers, Alesha Hagen
Conference: 4A Jeffco
Wrestlers to watch: Jake Kay, Sr., 126 pounds; Triston Tucker, Jr., 120; Lane Hanson, Soph., 106
Season opener: Nov. 29, at Valor Christian, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Evergreen returns just one state qualifier – Kay at 126 pounds – and has only 12 wrestlers in the program. But what the Cougars do have is a roster that could fill out anywhere from nine to 10 weight classes during dual meets, Williams said. That’s a change from the 2011-12 season when most of Evergreen’s roster weighed in between 135 and 152 pounds.
Quotable: “We’re really young with some new kids out. There’s not a lot of depth, but hopefully we can build on that and get some experience going,” Williams said.
— Michael Hicks