Former MCHS wrestler in match of his life
When Adams State College junior Kourtney Lake stepped to the scales at the NCAA Division II wrestling national championships in March, the signs were there.
The former high school state champion from Moffat County weighed in for the 141-pound weight class at 130 pounds.
Those who didn’t know Lake may have wondered why he was wrestling 11 pounds under his class and just six pounds above the next weight class.
But for those close to Lake, they knew.
“He wanted to keep wrestling to nationals,” Lake’s wife, Melissa, said. “The doctors didn’t see a problem with it, so he continued.”
In January, Lake was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. It’s a cancer that, at this time, has no cure.
After the wrestling season was over, Lake and his wife moved to Farmington, N.M., to live with Lake’s mother and stepfather, Reagan and Rolland Barney.
Lake is currently undergoing experimental treatments for his disease.
“The cancer has spread beyond the tumor, so doctors are being very aggressive with treatment,” Melissa said. “The medicine Kourtney is taking was cleared to be used just recently.”
Melissa, who married Kourtney in September of 2004, said that Kourtney’s physical strength is little.
“We wait on him hand and foot,” she said. “He doesn’t like a lot of people around him, so all we can really do is get him water.”
The newlyweds are without health insurance. They have received financial help from their immediate family (Kourtney’s father is Korry Lake), but the bills have started to accumulate.
The town of Alamosa and ASC have organized multiple fund-raisers to help the Lakes.
“Chris Day (the ASC assistant athletics director) and (assistant coach) Travis Koppenhafer have been great,” Melissa said. “The people in Alamosa have been amazing.”
Other than financial help, Melissa said that spiritual support is important to her husband.
“If people know Kourtney, they know how spiritual he is,” she said. “He asks for prayers.”
Gordon Grandbouche, owner of Craig Grain, employed Kourtney throughout high school. He found out about his former employee’s condition this week.
“It’s tragic,” he said. “Kourtney was more than a worker for me (in Craig), he was a friend.”
Grandbouche and the Moffat County wrestling coach have discussed holding a fund-raiser in Craig.
“I’d sure like to help him if we can,” Grandbouche said.
Gutierrez described Lake as disciplined wrestler who never gave his opponent a break.
“He was a runner-up as a junior, and he wasn’t going to finish second again,” Gutierrez said. “He was like a mosquito in a tent. He just kept coming at you.”
After Lake graduated from Moffat County High School in 1999 his family moved from Craig.
“Not a lot of the current wrestlers know him well because of his family moving,” Gutierrez said. “But the wrestling community knows what kind of person Kourtney is.”
Lake attended ASC for a year before leaving for a church mission in Russia for two years. He returned to Alamosa and ASC wrestling for the 2002-03 season. He won more than 90 matches as a Grizzly and earned All-American honors as a sophomore.
“His freshman year (ASC coach) Jason (Ramstetter) made the comment that he didn’t have the best skills, but he just kept coming and never gave up,” Gutierrez said. “He could find his way out of things that normal kids couldn’t.”
One only hopes that some way, somehow it can be the same case in Lake’s wrestling match with an opponent more challenging than any wrestler he’s faced.
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