The last time the Christian County Colonels finished in the top-two at the KHSAA State Wrestling Tournament, none of their current athletes had even come close to being born.
The Colonels won their last state title in 1988 as Saturday was their best finish since that stellar season.
While the coach of that 1988 team, Jim Perrin, is gone, assistant coaches Kirk Lancaster and Ed Davis still remember that day and both are thrilled after the Colonels’ finish last weekend.
“I was really, really pleased,” Lancaster said. “I was so happy the way they were able to pick themselves up and still carry on and by far had this group’s best finish ever.”
Lancaster was asked if he saw any similarities between the two squads and after a couple of seconds, he knew where those similarities were and said it starts in the wrestling room.
“Their fitness is the same as ours,” he said. “They worked really, really hard … That is the same similarity that I see. They have talent and they have a work ethic and the ability to not give up when things get tough.”
Both former coaches remarked on the current coaching staff and how excited they were that Robert Burnham was named the 2020 KYWCA Coach of the Year.
“This program is headed in the right direction,” Lancaster said. “If they can keep their staff together, it’s only going to get better. The whole key is to keep that staff together.”
Davis agreed and said he also saw some similar things between the squads.
“It’s a flashback going back to the days when our teams were so good year after year,” he said. “We just seemed like we always had good talent. We had a lot of hard work. This coaching staff here has done an excellent job. There’s a lot of ex-wrestlers that work with County and coach (Robert) Burnham has done a fabulous job, coach of the year, I love it. It reminds me of coach (Jim) Perrin and what he did that year. It was a pretty excellent team effort and that’s what we got again was not just a few individuals but we had a balanced team.”
Lancaster played collegiate tennis and after being a three-sport athlete at County, he knows what it takes to win championships.
He said the Colonels are doing things the right way.
“You have seen two separate kids, not the same kid twice, but two kids, one big kid, one small kid win state championships,” he said. “You have seen four different individuals in the finals in the last two years. Which one of you is going to be next? They’re trending in a positive direction.”
Lancaster said he remembers when they were trending upward a few decades ago.
“I take a lot of pride in what was built before me,” he said. “When I wrestled in 1982 as a senior, we finished fifth so it’s not like we weren’t good before. When I started coaching, this is not me, this is just what happened, we were getting better and better and better. We were placing wrestlers in the finals every year. We were on the way up.”
Lancaster said there isn’t an easy route in the sport of wrestling and the road is paved with difficult times.
“There’s no shortcuts in that sport,” he said. “I mean that … it’s work. Those coaches and those players, you can’t separate one from the other. The coach’s job is to make the player understand just how hard he has to work to succeed.”
Davis and Lancaster each had the honor of being at the induction of the 1988 team into the Christian County Hall of Fame last year.
Davis said this year’s team now has something they can remember.
“It was a real team effort us showing back up for the induction,” he said. “The memories, the stories and now we have another team that will have a lot of the same things we shared. Memories and stories that will be with them for the rest of their lives.”
While they may not realize it now, Davis said the Colonels did something that’ll carry on for many years, just like the team back in 1988.
“This team here is a reflection of what we were back in 88,” he said. “Bringing the prominence back to our school. It’s just wonderful for the school, wonderful for the town. I’m still a Colonel through and through and I just admire everything we’ve done, especially with this program.”
Lancaster said last year that Perrin would be proud of where the program is.
When asked what would Perrin say about last weekend, Lancaster channeled his former mentor.
“He would be happy, but he would not be satisfied,” he said.
The kicker? The Colonels aren’t satisfied either.