Killdeer junior wrestler Jerad Lee-Gay had two reasons to stay at 112 pounds this season. First and foremost was that his team needed him at that weight to shore up a solid 14-man dual lineup. "We have a chance at placing pretty high at state and...
Killdeer junior wrestler Jerad Lee-Gay had two reasons to stay at 112 pounds this season.
First and foremost was that his team needed him at that weight to shore up a solid 14-man dual lineup.
"We have a chance at placing pretty high at state and I didn't want to be the selfish one on the team," Lee-Gay said.
Secondly, after an ever-improving sophomore campaign, Lee-Gay had a feeling he could have a good season if he stayed at that weight.
Lee-Gay just never expected to be entering the opening round of the Class B state individual tournament today with the No. 1 ranking and a 34-1 record.
Nevertheless, Lee-Gay said he feels prepared to make a run at his first state title this weekend.
Lee-Gay isn't just the favorite at 112 this year, he is one of only three juniors at the weight. There are no seniors.
"I'm hoping I hit on another level at state," Lee-Gay said. "I've been working pretty hard in practice and I'm getting mentally prepared. I know it's not going to be easy matches. Everybody is going to be at their top level of wrestling."
Killdeer head coach Shane Olson said Lee-Gay hasn't stopped improving since the start of his sophomore season.
Lee-Gay finished with a 34-16 record last season and entered the state tournament as the No. 16 and final seed. He won three matches in a row in the consolation round before finishing sixth.
Over the summer, Lee-Gay was a fixture at wrestling camps. In the fall, he ran cross country to stay in shape.
"He's been working hard to keep his weight down where he should be and getting in better shape," Olson said. "He's put in a lot of extra effort."
Lee-Gay enters the state tournament on a 34-match win streak.
He lost his season opener to Chris Nile of Forsyth, Mont., during a tournament in Sidney, Mont.
He turned around beat Nile in the same tournament's semifinal round and defeated Tyler Kinn of Dawson County, Mont., in the finals.
Kinn won the Montana Class A state championship at 112 on Feb. 12 while Nile was the Class B-C runner-up.
"Looking back, I guess he had some pretty good competition there," Olson said. "We just didn't realize it at the time."
If Lee-Gay wins the state championship at 112, it would go a long way for the Cowboys and their chase for the team title.
Killdeer is coming off their first-ever Region 4 championship last Saturday and have a deep roster. Seven Cowboys are seeded as high as No. 6 in the brackets and they have a wrestler at every weight.
The only other team with 14 wrestlers in the Class B individual tournament is Region 3 champion Velva, which Killdeer faces this morning in the opening round of the state dual tournament.
Ever the team-first wrestler, Lee-Gay said he's anxious to see how Killdeer stacks up against the state's best.
"Our team is really going to depend on success and scoring points," Lee-Gay said. "Anything can happen really."