- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Kristofer Humphrey may be the biggest wrestler at John Hardin, but the senior heavyweight can’t help but feel a bit overlooked.
Never mind the fact that Humphrey is 6-foot-4 and weighs around 285 pounds.
Despite a 25-5 record entering Wednesday, including wins over three of the top five ranked heavyweights in the state, Humphrey remains unranked by kentuckywrestling.com.
All Humphrey wants is a little respect.
“I definitely feel slighted,” he said. “Every time I know rankings are coming out, I look for my name. When I don’t see it, it hurts and I feel cheated. But it doesn’t take away my wins.”
Three of which have come against Oldham County senior Mike Caudill, Central Hardin junior Matt Daugherty and Nelson County junior Zack Lawson, who are ranked second, third and fourth at heavyweight.
How he can beat those three and still remain unranked baffles Humphrey at times.
“It’s in my head. Every time I beat someone that’s ranked, it’s on my mind about not being ranked,” he said. “It really does affect the way I wrestle sometimes. I guess it’s just I feel like I’m not respected, that I’m not getting the looks I deserve because of all the hard work I’ve put in.”
Second-year John Hardin coach Mike Mitchell uses it as a motivational tactic. Anytime Humphrey – who his teammates and coaches affectionately call Keefry – gets frustrated in practice or during a match, all Mitchell has to do is mention the rankings and it gets Humphrey fired up.
“I use that to my advantage because it makes him go harder,” Mitchell said. “Honestly, I think he is a top-five heavyweight in the state based on who he’s beat. That’s helped his confidence, helped him realize he’s a good wrestler.”
And as the season moves into its final month, Humphrey has started to realize rankings don’t really matter. Being ranked would certainly be a feather in his cap, but Humphrey knows it’s not the be-all, end-all he once thought it was.
It was something he struggled with at the start of the season.
“But as the season’s gone along, Coach has worked with me to let me know that rankings aren’t really that important,” Humphrey said. “I just have to show up at each meet and get the win.
“It’s my senior year. It’s my last time to show myself and do everything I’ve always wanted to accomplish in my career,” he added. “I feel like going out there and winning and leaving it all out there on the mat is really what separates me from everyone else.”
Humphrey has also learned not to dwell on the past, thinking about what could’ve or might’ve been. As a freshman, Humphrey couldn’t finish the season because of a foot injury and was also diagnosed with asthma. He spent the majority of the next season as a backup.
He missed out on the state tournament last season.
“After not making it to State, it affected me a lot. It hit me hard,” Humphrey said. “All offseason and all during football season it was all I could think about was getting to State and getting the respect I want.”
Mitchell said Humphrey not making it to State affected him just as much.
“Once he got to that first match, it took out a lot of his energy,” Mitchell said. “He wasn’t able to recover much that day. It hurt watching it as his coach because I wanted it for him. But we had to look past that and start working on improving for the next year.”
Mitchell knew there would be no lingering effects when Humphrey came to the team after football season. Humphrey cut the weight necessary to be able to compete in John Hardin’s first tournament of the season, which caught his coaches by surprise.
“When he made weight, I knew where he was going to be for this season,” Mitchell said.
Humphrey has been a dark horse all season, a role he is starting to like – even if he’s not ranked.
“I do kinda like going into matches when people underestimate me,” he said. “There have been a few times this season where I could tell people ranked high thought I would just be a pushover. I would like to have fewer losses, but five isn’t bad. I just have to keep winning. Looking back on some matches, I know what I did wrong and I know what I could’ve done to win. But the losses are something I can learn from.”
No matter what happens, Humphrey is always going to leave it all out on the mat. That’s just how he’s wired. His competitive nature won’t let him have it any other way.
“He scares me sometimes,” Mitchell said. “He’s the only wrestler we have that makes me nervous when he’s on the mat because I’m always looking for the signs that his asthma is kicking in. But he will not come off the mat until his hand has been raised or he’s being carried off.”
Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.