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Former Bulldog spends final days as a new father

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The obituary reads "Kortney is survived by his wife, Melissa, and his son, Kenzy Lex Lake."

It doesn't start to tell the story of 25-year-old Kortney Lake's last weeks.

What it doesn't tell is how the former wrestling state champion from Moffat County High School spent his final days as a new father.

Moffat County wrestling coach Roman Gutierrez said he learned of Lake's death Monday from Kortney's mother, Reagan Barney, who lives in Farmington, N.M.

"What was amazing about everything was that Kenzy was due to be born this week," Gutierrez said. "Instead, he was born on May 25, and Kortney was able to be there."

Lake was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in January of 2005. He was in the middle of his junior year of wrestling at Adams State College, where he was an All-American. He finished the season, but had to leave school because of the disease.

He underwent experimental chemotherapy treatments for the cancer, which is one of the toughest cancers to treat.

Kortney and Melissa didn't have health insurance when he was diagnosed. The community of Alamosa and ASC hosted a dinner in his honor and raised almost $10,000 to help with costs. A class at Moffat County High School also hosted a dance to raise funds for the Lakes.

Gutierrez said he met with Lake at the wrestling state championships in February and they talked about the former Bulldog's future.

"He was excited to have me meet his wife and tell me about the baby they were going to have," Gutierrez said. "He also talked about how much he didn't like what chemotherapy did to him."

Gutierrez said that Lake's dislike for the pain that aggressive chemo treatments caused led him to stop treatment until Kenzy was born.

"Reagan said that Kortney didn't want to be undergoing chemo during the birth because it made him so weak," Gutierrez said.

Around the time of Kenzy's birth, Kortney was starting to lose his battle with cancer.

"I guess he went downhill fast," Gutierrez said.

Lake died at Monday at San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, N.M.

Gutierrez and his daughter, Nancy, who will be a sophomore next year, went to the visitation in Alamosa today with fond stories of the former Bulldog.

"When Nancy was little, I would ask her at the beginning of the year which wrestler on the team would do the best," Gutierrez said. "She picked Kortney twice because she liked him so much. The first year she picked him, he lost in the finals and there was no way to console her because she was so sad. The second year he won, and she may have been as excited as him."

After graduating from Moffat County in 1999, Lake attended ASC for a year. He then left to serve on a church mission in Russia.

He returned to competing for the 2003-04 season and earned All-American honors with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Div. II national tournament.

During the 2004-05 season, he was ranked as high as third in the country, but illness took its toll. Lake weighed in at the national tournament 11 pounds underweight because of the weight loss he had already incurred.

Lake's service is today at 10 a.m. at the Alamosa Third Ward Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The interment will follow.

"I'm sure there will be lots of stories about how much of a fighter Kortney was," Gutierrez said. "He always battled, and I'm sure he battled to make sure he could see his son into the world."

Lake's family couldn't be reached for comment for this story.

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com.

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