Sometimes a team gets too focused on winning it all and doesn’t appreciate the little things.
Other times, teams just take a step back and give thanks for one very important factor – that they have a team at all.
That’s what the Dakota Ridge wrestling team discovered this year.
Rumors abounded that the Eagles may do away with the wrestling program for the 2006-2007 school year. That is until Larry May stepped in.
May, who came from Green Mountain, took over an Eagles team that barely had enough wrestlers on varsity to compete. In his first year as coach, Dakota Ridge took sixth place in the Class 5A Jefferson County League.
This year – May’s second season with the Eagles – he led them to a first place finish in the Jeffco League South (Jeffco splits into North and South divisions for wrestling) and second overall in the League.
Dakota Ridge fell to Pomona in the Jeffco League Championship matchup 66-6 on Feb. 7, but the Eagles’ wrestlers didn’t seem too disappointed as they rolled up the mat.
“He brought us all the way from rock bottom to second in the league,” said Dakota Ridge senior Jeremy Gibson, who wrestles at 140 pounds. “I didn’t imagine we’d get as far as we did this soon. We have improved over the last ee well it seems like forever.”
Even though he’s been with the Eagles for just two years, May has made an impact on his wrestlers as well as the community.
After Feb. 7’s matchup, one fan walked up to shake his hand and tell him, “Man, I love what you do out there. I love what you’ve done for the kids. It’s great to watch you.”
And, that’s putting it mildly.
Anyone who has witnessed May sitting in his chair on the side of the mat can’t say that he “sits” at all.
“I love how animated he is on the mat when he’s coaching,” said senior 119-pounder Stas Kardas, who won the Eagles’ only match on Thursday. “He’s great.”
May simply can not sit still.
He yells. He jumps out of his seat. He screams out directions and he waves his arms around. He points out, with almost all of his body parts, what move the wrestler needs to make next.
When asked if his 64-ounce Dr. Pepper has anything to do with his enthusiasm, May just laughs.
“I just wish I could wrestle for my kids,” May said. “My assistant, coach Ash (Nelson), has to hold me back. He’s like, ‘Coach, sit down. Coach, back down!’”
But, that’s what everyone loves about him.
It’s his excitement that’s contagious. May’s kids want to win for him – not just for themselves.
“Our last coach would favor one kid and one kid only,” Gibson said. “Coach May treats us all the same. He loves us.”
And the feeling is mutual.
“I’m mostly proud of the way my kids have turned the season around,” May said. “They believe in themselves and they believe in me. I really believe in them and I love them all.”
Pomona 66, Dakota Ridge 6
189 pounds: Joe Giran, P, dec. Jason Marts, 6-1; 215: Danny Haupt, P, by forfeit; 285: Kyle Taaffe, P, by forfeit; 112: Dominic Madril, P, pinned Travis Barth, 1:08; 119: Stas Kardas, DR, pinned Eoman Colgan, 2:27; 125: Teryn Kerr, P, dec. Conner Cordova, 9-8; 130: Nate Yang, P, pinned Jordan Bybee, :59; 135: Nick Jones, P, pinned Joe Abeyta, 2:25; 140: Nick Riley, P, dec. Jeremy Gibson, 13-5; 145: Michael Gomez, P, pinned Shaunder Brist, 5:24; 152: Aaron Dewitt, P, pinned Ryan Tuggle, 1:04; 160: Michael Wilder, P, pinned Todd Brist, 3:57; 171: Kyle Straud, P, dec. Steve Martinez, 4-1; 103: Tyler Hergert, P, by forfeit.