By Kyle Daubs
When you start rattling off the names of the 100-Win Club, Kiefer Duncan knows that he is in some pretty elite company.
Since Brett Porter took over in 2009-2010, only seven wrestlers have won 100 matches – Kory Kulp, Creed Janes, Nick Polston, Hayden Stanley, Trevor Edwards, Garrette Branson and Coby Haney.
Duncan just became the newest member.
The Mattoon High School senior wrestler earned career win No. 100 on Tuesday with a victory over his opponent from Salt Fork.
“It’s pretty cool to know that I am up there with some other elite guys,” said Duncan. “I knew that I had got it, but I didn’t think about it until afterward. Then, my reaction was that it was pretty cool. I mean, how many wrestlers get to do that?”
The way Porter sees it, Duncan hasn’t just been someone who excels during the regular season.
“Kiefer has always shined in the postseason,” said Porter. “Not many wrestlers can qualify for state as a freshman, and Duncan had to proven himself to get there three times. He is someone who seems to enjoy practice almost as much as getting his hand raised. With that being said, those qualities made it easy to see him win over 100 matches in high school.”
Duncan said practice has been key.
“The hard work every day was a major reason,” said Duncan. “I try to pick out the hardest people at practice and just go after them. I know I have improved so much since my freshman year. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of people help along the way to get where I am.”
Duncan specifically pointed out Porter and assistant coach Devin Patterson.
“Those guys are tremendous at what they do,” said Duncan. “They are willing to coach me through everything. They put me in a good mindset to go compete and represent Mattoon. They come to practice every day excited to wrestle and I think that is what the team needs.”
Porter said Duncan also brings a great deal of energy to practice and meets, but never gets cocky or caught up in the moment.
“As social and animated as Kiefer has been as an individual, I love how Kiefer has been humble with his success and yet focused on his future goals,” said Porter. “As a coach, I couldn’t be more proud to have the opportunity to work with Kiefer. I feel we have a connection during his matches and I only hope he trusts me as much as I trust him with our game plan.”
It might have been a loss, though, that has driven him the most.
“There are two major matches that I remember the most and one of them was a loss,’ said Duncan. “In my mind, I didn’t believe I could win and then Porter installed in me that I could get one last takedown. I took it to overtime, but, unfortunately, I lost. There was another my freshman year when I faced the No. 3 ranked kid in the state and took him the distance to tie it, 2-2. Then I got an escape with four seconds left and won to make it to the third day of state. I’ll remember both of those matches for a long time.”
Duncan is poised to make a run at Janes’ career victory total of 118.
If Duncan can go on a postseason run toward the state tournament, he could potentially break that record.
One thing is for sure, Porter is hoping he can break out the nice dress clothes if that is the case.
“As great an accomplishment as it is to make the 100 club, I know Kiefer has one goal this season,” said Porter. “I just hope to watch his last match in my nicest suit.”
In the state finals.