The first year that Joel McCanna coached the Scotland High School wrestling program was also the last for wrestler Nicky Kee, as the 152-pounder finished seventh in the state his senior season.
Two decades later, McCanna and Kee (now coaching for the Fighting Scots) preside over a wrestling program that has grown leaps and bounds since their initial season together.
So perhaps it’s fitting that, with the Fighting Scots’ 40-34 win over rival Richmond on Wednesday, two SHS milestones were reached on the very same night.
The win was McCanna’s 300th as coach of the Scots, and was also the 200th career victory for 170-pound wrestler Nick Kee, son of Nicky. With one more win, the younger Kee (whose record currently stands at 200-4) will break Scotland High School’s all-time record for match victories.
“During my coaching tenure I’ve had several great wrestlers, and this year is no different because these kids have pulled together and helped make the team what it is today,” said McCanna, whose squad currently sits second behind Pinecrest this season. The team will again travel to Richmond this Saturday to compete in the conference championship duals.
“This is a group that won’t quit, and the way they’re wrestling right now shows me that these kids are hitting their peak. There could be some surprises in store these next few weeks,” he said.
Starting things off for Scotland against the Raiders Wednesday night was 113-pound freshman Josiah Williams, who joined his older brother (senior 126-pounder Deshawn) in dominating their Richmond opposition. Both Josiah and Deshawn earned pins in the first period.
Scotland 132-pound junior Afiz Lateef also had a rock-solid showing against Richmond, earning a pin in the first period while also holding his opponent to zero points to complete the one-sided outing. The victory improved Lateef’s record to 40-9 on the season.
The match of the night in the eyes of Scotland came at the 138-pound weight class, as senior Bobby Diggs polished off his opponent in the third period via pin after a hard-fought contest that could’ve gone either way. The victory proved pivotal in the long run, as Scotland faced an uphill battle knowing they would forfeit three weight classes ultimately forcing them to dig out of an 18-point hole.
“We expected big things out of Bobby when he came back for us this year, and we were counting on him against Richmond,” said Nicky Kee after the match. Diggs rejoined the team in 2013 after sitting out the first leg of the season.
“He was facing one of their top-three best wrestlers and when he won our bench went crazy,” he said.
Another Scotland highlight came from 152-pound freshman Willis Benoit’s performance against the Raiders, as Benoit earned the 13-4 major decision which further boosted Scotland’s hopes of securing the overall match victory.
The match was officially sealed after 160-pound senior Adrian Soto-Perez and Nick Kee (who bumped up to the 182-pound division against Richmond) each produced victories in their typically-dominant fashion, with each registering first-period pins to give Scotland the permanent edge over the Raiders. Soto-Perez boosted his 2012-13 record to 49-1 with his win at Richmond.
And after his hand was raised, Nick Kee not only solidified his standing as arguably Scotland’s best-ever wrestler, he also gave McCanna a landmark win of his own.
“When I was a freshman, I never thought that I would’ve have reached this level,” said Nick Kee, who reached 50-0 on the year Wednesday night. “It shows what hard work and dedication can get you, and the fact that I got to share this with someone I’ve known since I was 4 years-old (McCanna) made it even more special. Now it’s time for everybody to be on their A-game and give it all we got moving ahead.”