4A JEFFCO LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 9, 8 a.m.
WHERE: Bear Creek High School, Lakewood
TEAMS: Alameda International, Arvada, Conifer, Evergreen, Golden, Green Mountain, Wheat Ridge
WRESTLERS TO WATCH: 120: Bronson Spies, Conifer; Romelo Salas, Golden; 126: Jake Kay, Evergreen; 138: Hunter Shivley, Conifer; 152: Devan Rothrock, Golden; 170: Brad Blackstock, Golden; 182: Dillon Tussey, Conifer; 195: Garet Krohn, Arvada; 220: Noah Lennox, Golden; Brock Howes, Arvada; 285: Dakota Gulley, Golden
NOTE: Evergreen will compete in the 4A Region 3 (Central) tournament on Feb. 15-16 at Mullen High School in Denver.
It may not be completely true, but Evergreen wrestling coach Lane Williams notes that the Cougars’ schedule was really set up for 126-pounder Jake Kay. And to a point, Kay has come through heading into the Feb. 9 4A Jeffco League championships at Bear Creek High School.
“I can see him being a three-time league champion,” Williams said of Kay.
It’s hard not to see that possibility considering the Evergreen senior has just four losses on the 2012-13 campaign, all to wrestlers who were in their respective state finals a year ago. Factor in a number of wins over ranked grapplers and Kay, who is as healthy as he’s been the past three seasons, just may be where he needs to be going into the postseason. But Kay isn’t one to count his eggs before they hatch.
“You never know. We haven’t seen much of our league this year,” Kay said. “You never know. There’s always good kids. I’m looking for state not leagues.”
But before he can get to that, Kay has leagues and then the 4A Region 3 tournament at Mullen High School the following Friday and Saturday. The top four from regionals qualify for the state tournament Feb. 21-23 at Denver’s Pepsi Center.
“There are a couple of really good ranked kids in there,” Kay said of regionals. “That will be a good test before state. I’m confident I can do well there.”
He won regionals his sophomore year and took fourth last season despite dealing with a lingering shoulder injury that cost him a lot of mat time. A concussion in 2011 knocked him out of the state field.
While Kay is Evergreen’s best bet this postseason, there are a trio of grapplers who could make some noise starting with Lane Hanson at 106 pounds.
“I really think Lane has got a tough way to go. The guy ranked fourth is in our region. They went toe-to-toe this year before Lane gave up a last-second takedown to lose the match. He could definitely sneak his way into fourth, third place if he keeps going and works as hard like he is,” Williams said.
Hanson agreed, but it will all start with his technique.
“I’ve been shooting a lot more and getting a lot more takedowns and scoring more points,” he said. “Everything has gotten a lot faster and smoother from last year.”
Triston Tucker at 120 pounds and Thad Yeatts at 160 are others who could sneak their way into state, Williams said. For Tucker to get there it may be more of what he does than anybody else.
“If he gets it together he can place,” Williams said of Tucker at leagues and regionals. “He can definitely place. He’s just mentally got to get in the right mindset.”
For Yeatts, it’s not as much as where he’s at mentally but simply a matter of where he’s at physically.
“Looking at regionals at 160 our region doesn’t have anybody ranked. That coincides with the Jeffco League and it’s the same region for the most part,” Williams said. “That will be interesting to see.”
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.