As a hustling college kid just starting his high school coaching career, Kyle Kimrey took on every task for Irmo's wrestling program.
And so after his first season coaching Battery Creek wrestling, Kimrey can appreciate the situation he inherited. He credits the Dolphins' network of assistant coaches, including former Dolphins coach Nathan Day, for helping maintain his sanity.
"The four of us have a deep passion for the sport, care about the kids and love winning," said Kimrey, The Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet Wrestling Coach of the Year. "You're not going to find a better staff to work with. And it makes it easy to get a lot of things done."
Kimrey, in his first season with a full-time teaching and coaching job, directed the effort. Four Dolphins qualified for the Class 3-A individual state championships, and one -- heavyweight David Ratliff -- returned with a state title.
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The number of qualifiers was about what the Dolphins staff had penciled before the season. Among their tasks were to ready the next wave of Dolphins wrestlers. And Kimrey believes they're close with the likes of Josh Green, Joey Kasper-Little, Jimmy Sanchez and Javon Livingston.
Each began the season without a wealth of wrestling experience. Each had a chance to qualify for state. Assuming the Dolphins do what's needed during the offseason, next season should yield desired results, Kimrey said.
He talks of the process of developing Battery Creek into what is a wrestling-rich area. Day this season began working with wrestlers at the middle school level, so that they would have that much more experience when they arrive at Battery Creek.
"It's not rocket science, being a good wrestler," Kimrey said. "It's all about mastering the technique, lifting weights and making sure you're doing the right things to improve. If you're going to sit there and think you're going to get better in your sleep and sitting on your couch, it's not going to happen."
During the season, Kimrey used Ratliff and Bear Childers as examples. The pair, partners on the mat during practice, brought a competitive spirit to workouts. Ratliff earned a state title and Childers finished runner-up at 215.
With Ratliff, who entered the state tournament ranked No. 6 after a sub-par showing at Lower State, Kimrey reminded him to win on his feet. They figured one takedown and an escape would be good enough to win most heavyweight matches at state. Ratliff finished with more takedowns than Kimrey had hoped.
Kimrey said Ratliff became adept at listening to a strategy and executing during a match. Other wrestlers Kimrey simply encouraged to go as hard as they could.
"That's the beauty of wrestling," he said. "It's an individual sport and each kid's different."
Kimrey said his goal with younger wrestlers is to show them how competitive the sport can be, to develop a disdain for losing. And then come the fundamentals, where everyone -- up to the state champ Ratliff -- needs frequent reminders.
Kimrey said he and his staff hope their methods eventually land the program in the top four in the state on a consistent basis.
"It will be a process," he said. "But I just think it's a matter of time before we get to the point we want to be."