by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’s no small task; to ask a group of grapplers to perform after losing graduates like State-goers Jimmy Boyle and Kyle Davidson of a year ago.
With Knight wrestlers, intangibles they provided will live on in the current crop.
Despite finishing 11-15 in a dual setting, Kaneland had a prolific regional meet, and took what the Class of 2011 left it to heart.
“(Davidson and Boyle) were state qualifiers and four-year varsity starters,” fourth-year KHS coach Monty Jahns said. “Their leadership will be missed, however their tenacity and dedication was taken in by the underclassmen. We expect senior Ben Kovalick to provide solid leadership this year.”
Kovalick competed at 215 pounds a year ago.
“I think Kovalick will lead the Knights this season. Ben is a consistent hard worker that is very coachable,” Jahns said.
Also looking to make hay on the mat are returnees Esai Ponce and Dan Goress, both of whom provided lifts a year ago in the lighter weight classes. Ponce, a junior, was at 119, while classmate Goress excelled at 130 and was one of five Knights to take home regional crowns a year ago.
The Knights are solidifying lineup questions due to the prolonged football quest, but Jahns still has much to be encouraged about.
“This group has an appreciation for the technical skills and is willing to put in extra time to be well conditioned. We’re going to be pretty thin with our line-up for the next week or so, but when all our football players return, I expect the intensity in the practice room to explode,” Jahns said.
Kaneland would love to sync up regular season success with the postseason triumphs, and KHS will need to compete at a high level at duals, and continue the good fortunes at weekend tournaments.
“I think we will just be lacking varsity experience at several weight classes, and that may be difficult to overcome in a dual-meet setting. For tournaments, we’ll have enough very good wrestlers that place high and earn the points needed to compete in a tournament setting,” Jahns said.