Lakeside senior Kyle Tau isn't a typical two-sport athlete in Columbia County.
The fact that he plays football and wrestles isn't too far-fetched. Wrestling's growing popularity and aggressive nature makes it a nice fit for football players looking for a way to stay in shape over the winter. That's not exactly the reason Tau began to wrestle, however. In fact, it's the other way around.
"I'm a wrestler, but I play football, too," he said.
That's not the normal response in a county where football easily trumps wrestling in popularity. Tau, who got his start in both sports at the middle school level in Columbia County, said he prefers wrestling because of the sport's individual aspect.
There's also the fact that he's one of the best wrestlers in the Augusta area. Although Tau was a regular on both sides of the football and logged 31 tackles and 2.5 sacks this past season for the Panthers, he's seen even more success on the wrestling mat. At the 189-pound weight class, Tau has an undefeated record.
Ask him his official record, and he'll add in a loss. His humility doesn't tell the whole story.
"The guy he was going to wrestle didn't make weight so we made it an exhibition match," Lakeside wrestling coach Randy Hill said. "He did lose, but the guy was almost a full weight class bigger than him."
With or without the exhibition loss, Tau entered last weekend's match at Woodward Academy in Atlanta with a 14-0 record against his 189-pound opponents. That total includes 10 pins.
"He's just gotten so much more physical," Hill said. "He's worked a lot better on his feet, and has become more aggressive. He's short and stocky, too."
Though most area wrestlers are imported from the North, Tau is pretty much an exclusive product of the Lakeside wrestling program. The senior wrestler is living proof of the sport's growth in the county.
"I've got a lot of guys like that now," Hill said. "It makes you feel good when they develop through your program. You feel like you're accomplishing something."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.