Jeremy Kenny sparred in the Kaneland wrestling room as a high school student in the early 2000s. He often remained after workouts, a practice that helped pave the way to Kenny getting his name painted on the wall.
Every Kaneland athlete to match or exceed 20 single-season victories is so honored, and what many current Knights liked most about Kenny was that he seemed to forget. As a longtime assistant, Kenny torqued and tangled with wrestlers as if he were still sporting a black and white singlet, working toward a bid to the state meet in Champaign.
Don't expect any less involvement with Kenny close to taking over as head coach. He recently was nominated to Kaneland School District 302 as the successor to Monty Jahns, and awaits board approval later this month.
"It's kind of like second-nature as far as transitioning into head coach," Kenny said. "I've been so involved in the process and Monty really allowed me to do that. We worked together, we ran the program together, so the transition to being the head [coach] will be just what I've been doing."
Kenny, a four-year varsity wrestler at Kaneland, graduated in 2004. Competing at 171 pounds, he qualified for the Class AA state meet as a senior and finished the season 39-8.
He walked on at Northern Illinois for three seasons before beginning as a volunteer coach at Kaneland in 2006. He officially joined the staff as an assistant the following winter, and is in his first year as a full-time Kaneland security guard.
Kenny meshed well with Jahns, another former Knight who cited an increased workload at Nicor Gas in his decision to leave the program. He also endeared himself to the Knights, namely senior Dan Goress. The reigning 2A state champ at 145 pounds was a frequent Kenny sparring partner.
"Hard worker at whatever he does," Goress said. "He's that competitive guy where if you're playing checkers, he's going to do whatever he can to win. If it's wrestling, you can only imagine how hard he goes. He just doesn't stop no matter how tired you or him is."
Kenny plans to apply the same intensity at his alma mater, which enjoyed multiple state placers for the first time since 1993 this season.
"We've made a lot of progress in the last few years in our transition into a credible 2A program," Kenny said. "I'm just looking to build individual success as well as bring the team confidence and team aspect to Kaneland wrestling."