The Kee family was enjoying a beach vacation on July 1st when the phone of Scotland senior wrestler Nick Kee began to ring off the hook.
“The calls started in the morning and kept coming in back-to-back-to-back,” Kee said. “I must’ve gotten at least 20 phone calls that day.”
As it turns out, the first of July was the official start of the recruiting process for college athletic programs across the country. And as one of the most decorated wrestlers in the United States, Kee would find out that day just how hot a commodity he truly was.
But after fielding several offers and official visits as far as Arizona University, Kee made his decision final roughly two weeks ago. Next year Kee will attend the University of Missouri, one of the most lauded wrestling programs in the nation.
A visit during a Tigers wrestling practice was all it took for Kee to know which school was the best fit for him.
“Missouri blew out everyone else facility wise,” said Kee of his decision. “From the mats to the weight-lifting room, it was a wrestler’s dream. But when I saw the wrestlers there going all out during a practice, I realized how much better I could get if I worked as hard as they do there.”
For anyone familiar with his accomplishments, the idea of a vastly-improved Kee is most likely a scary thought.
Through the first three years of his Scotland High School wrestling career, Kee has compiled a record of approximately 160-4 and plans on surpassing 200 wins this season. Kee was 58-0 last year and didn’t allow a single takedown during the regular season, and as a 170 pounder in the 4-A state tournament this past February, Kee gave up just two combined points en route to his second consecutive state championship.
But if you ask Kee, the 2011-12 state championship isn’t even the high point of his young career. That came his sophomore year when he was crowned the NHSCA Junior Nationals champion after finishing in third place the year before. As a junior, Kee would finish in second place as well.
Due to the laundry list of accolades he’s collected, Kee is currently the sixth-ranked senior wrestler in the country.
“It feels good because it shows that anyone can capture their dream,” said Kee, who practices and conditions nearly three hours daily. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s what you do to get where you want to be in life.”
So what’s left for Kee to accomplish in his final year at SHS that he hasn’t accomplished already?
For starters, Kee wants to once again finish the wrestling season (which officially kicks off November 1st) as an undefeated state champion in the 170-pound weight class. And with the decision of where to attend college now behind him, Kee has already added to his 2012 banner year with a win this past weekend at the ninth annual “Mustang Stampede” tournament featuring more than 150 of the top wrestlers in the country. Kee would defeat Zach Epperly, the fifth-ranked wrestler in the nation, at the tournament.
Kee will next travel to Greensboro for the ‘Super 32 Challenge’ tournament held at the Greensboro Coliseum, which includes five of the top 100 wrestlers in the country competing in the 170-pound bracket. Last year at the same event, Kee was the runner-up.
While Kee has his gaze set on his wrestling future, Scotland varsity coach Joel McCanna can’t help but remember the path that Kee took to get to this point. Beginning his 20th year as the coach of the Fighting Scots, McCanna recalls coaching Kee’s father Nicky when the elder Kee was a senior at Scotland. He also remembers when Kee first started wrestling at age 4.
Having coached state champions and wrestlers who would move on to collegiate wrestling programs, McCanna is proud to see Kee parlay his love for wrestling into the opportunity of a lifetime.
“Nick is one of the hardest workers and greatest college signees I’ve ever had,” McCanna said. “The best part about all of it is that these colleges came to Nick, not the other way around. It’s great to see a student use something like wrestling to his advantage the way Nick has, and I’m honored to be associated with his accomplishments.”