Familiar face fills coaching vacancy
KANELAND—As seems par for the course, the Knights wrestling program will have a familiar face leading the matmen.
Beginning this fall, the Knights will be steered by new head coach and Class of 2004 alum Jeremy Kenny, who was recommended for the position in April and approved at the KHS school board meeting on Monday.
“For me, I had a feeling it was going to happen,” Kenny said. “After talking to Monty (Jahns) and to have it be official, I think it was relief.”
Kenny, who was a State qualifier under former coach Gary Baum, takes over for fellow alum Jahns, who stepped away to focus more on responsibilities at his day job with Nicor Gas.
Kenny, the former two-year NIU Huskie wrestler, has seen almost every potential wrestler come through the ranks in Maple Park since joining the coaching staff six seasons ago.
“Monty and I ran together with the program; I’ve been able to learn the program, and he gave me flexibility,” Kenny said.
Jahns, himself a decorated Kaneland wrestler who graduated in 1982, helped launch the Knights Wrestling Club in 1987 and had seen virtually all the eventual Knight wrestlers take the mat.
A member of the Kaneland Hall of Fame and a former State qualifier, Jahns served as varsity assistant coach before taking over as head coach from Gary Baum for the 2008-09 campaign.
The Jahns era had a handful of State qualifiers, beginning with Jay Levita in 2008-09, Jimmy Boyle and Kyle Davidson in 2009-10, Boyle again in 2010-11, Stephen Gust, Esai Ponce, Dan Goress and Ben Kovalick in 2011-12, and Ponce, Zach Theis and 145-state State champ Goress this past season.
Kenny, employed as a full-time security guard at KHS, has an idea of a head coaching style already.
“I guess my style is action. I never like to ask the kids do something that I wouldn’t be willing to ask of myself,” Kenny said.
Kenny, who knows what it’s like to be one of the select few grapplers to make it to Champaign, Ill., as part of the 171-pound class, won’t just be a coach, but a fan and believer of the sport.
“I just want to develop the program more,” Kenny said. “I want to help make these kids into good young adults. Wrestling is one of the great sports for life lessons.”