Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

December 26, 2013

Graham wrestlers strive to stay upright on mats

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Kyshon Lee knows very well the one fatal flaw that no wrestler can have.

“You cannot get on your back,” Lee said. “That is what you think the whole match, you do not want to end up on back. Whenever I go to my back the first thing is for me to base up, get off my back.”

Lee will be working on those details this season for the Graham wrestling team, with the goal ahead for the junior in the 170-pound weight class to end the year at the Virginia state meet in Salem.

“I have set two goals for myself this year,” Lee said. “One hundred wins is definitely one goal. That was my first goal is 100 wins. My second goal is to definitely make it to state.”

That is also the goal ahead for Dylan Cook, another junior, who is competing in the 195-pound weight class. He qualified for state as an alternate as a freshman, but an injured hip hurt his chances last year.

“Winning the state,” said Cook, who added how his goal could come true. “By the Grace of the Lord.”

While Cook and Lee are both members of the Graham football team, both are also partial to wrestling...the ‘real’ wrestling as compared to what Lee watched on television as a kid.

“I realized that was fake wrestling and I wanted to do something real,” Lee said. “I grew up watching wrestling and I always wanted to be a wrestler.

“Getting a high school wrestling base was a good opportunity for me.”

“I was in a football household and my dad told me wrestling would help me out for football and make me better for football,” added Cook. “I took up wrestling as well.”

Lee, who wrestled and played football at Bluefield High School as a freshman, won 44 matches last year for the G-Men, but disciplinary issues cost him an opportunity to participate in the regional meet, which did the same to his state meet hopes.

“I got in trouble before my region match so I didn’t get to go to regions and that took me out of state,” Lee said. “It was a big upset.”

A love from wrestling for Lee developed from a fondness for martial arts, which requires many of the same skills on the wrestling mat.

“Really growing up I used to take a lot of martial arts,” Lee said. “I try to relate martial arts with wrestling a little bit. There are some things that are similar. The type of martial arts I took were more like grappling and lock-up and it helped me with my wrestling.”

Ditto for football, which has helped Lee develop his skills as a wrestler.

“Football helps my wrestling because it starts off my year with conditioning and that way whenever wrestling season comes I don’t get winded and the football weight-lifting, it is tremendous for wrestling,” Lee said. “I have wrestled a lot of people who have told me I am the strongest wrestler they have ever wrestled.

“You have got to have endurance and technique.”

Lee started this season strong, winning his weight class at a meet at Carroll County — defeating a third place finisher at state last February in the process — and was second in the Bobby Bates event last Saturday in Wise, Va.

He is a key part of Graham coach Tim Woodward’s 28th season as the G-Men’s mentor on the mats.

“He is a phenomenal athlete, one of the most positive, pleasant, cheerful kids I have ever coached,” Woodward said. “He set his goals to be in the state finals this year and I believe with some luck and some breaks he can definitely be up there on the podium and placing at state.”

Cook admits to a weakness for stamina, but does have proper technique, which enabled him to win 20 matches last year despite injury woes.

“It was an all right year, it will be better this year,” Cook said. “I just have to wrestle hard. I just have to do a lot of live wrestling and running to improve my endurance.”

Last year Cook wrestled in the 170-pound class, but went on a weight gain and workout binge in the offseason, raising his weight, which enabled him to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark as a fullback on the football field, and has him focused on what must be done at his new weight class on the mats.

“You have to get used to it picking up bigger people and wrestling stronger people,” said Cook, who attended a wrestling camp in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. last summer. “It taught me techniques and how to ride on top and stuff like that.”

Woodward is confident the work Cook put into improving on the football field will translate as well to the mats. Cook’s brother, Hunter, is a senior football standout and wrestler for the G-Men.

“Dylan, along with his brother Hunter, have been with me since they were little kids in grade school,” Woodward said. “Dylan is a hard worker, he sets goals for himself and strives for them.

“He has gone to camps over the summers to improve his wrestling. I hope this year he has a great year because he works very hard, he will deserve success with everything he puts into it.”

Graham has a relatively young team. Eight of the 14 weight classes have veterans back, but six of the lightest seven classes will be filled with first-year contributors.

Much like Woodward, Lee is confident those competitors will improve as the season progresses, continuing on Saturday at the prestigious Agie Skeens Classic being held in Grundy.

“I am actually pretty pleased the way they are attending practice and the way they are learning, they are all quick learners, they are getting the hang of it,” Lee said. “Every kid that I have talked to about wrestling, they have asked me how come they didn’t make them wrestle sooner because they really like it.

“I think we will have a good shot at sending a lot of kids to state.”

Ditto for Cook.

“We have to take a bus to state,” Cook said, with a smile. “That is what I want.”

Football is fun for Lee, but his preference isn’t the gridiron.

Wrestling is his game, and he will keep a constant eye on Salem and the final matches of the season.

“That is what is on my mind. Every (meet) that I go to (my goal) is to at least place in these tournaments,” Lee said. “That way I can make it to state and even beyond state. I want to take wrestling to the next level and I want to be able to go to college wrestling...

“Wrestling is by far my favorite sport.”


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