Kotey caps college career

Placer graduate falls just short in bid for unprecedented third national college boxing title
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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Half of the battle for Nevada’s Ryan Kotey during his final college boxing season was making weight. The Placer High graduate, who dropped down a class to help fill a void for the Wolf Pack, shaved nine more pounds off his 156-pound frame. “It was pretty painful,” said Kotey, who often consumed only 1,500 calories a day despite grueling workouts. “The people around me could tell it was pretty hard on me. I never really ate dinner. I was living off fruit and vegetables.” Kotey, a former football linebacker with the Hillmen, capped his stellar college boxing career earlier this month, losing a decision to Steve Escobar of the U.S. Military Academy in the 147-pound championship at the National Collegiate Boxing Tournament in West Point, NY. Kotey, who had beaten Escobar in a split decision in Reno in February, was aiming to become a three-time national champion after winning titles as a freshman (165) and sophomore (156). He was also the runner-up at 156 pounds his junior year. “He dropped a weight class for the benefit of the team this year and we really appreciate that,” Nevada boxing coach Mike Martino said. “In my opinion he would have won the championship at 156 pounds this year.” Kotey is trying not to second-guess his choice. “Maybe it wasn’t the best decision, looking back,” he said. “But I don’t know if I would have done it differently. Who knows? Power was never really a problem for me, but some of the guys at 1477 were faster than I thought.” Martino describes Kotey’s college career as “almost a reverse” of the typical champion. “He won as a freshman and sophomore and had two runner-ups as a junior and senior,” he said. “That’s pretty unique. He had a lot of pressure on him having such great success early in his career.” Kotey cruised through the Western Regional Collegiate Boxing Tournament at University of San Francisco last month. He beat his first two opponents in New York and won the first round against Escobar before losing the second two. “It was a pretty close fight, but he was ready for me this time,” Kotey said. Kotey hopes to graduate in December with a degree in civil engineering, an area of study he chose primarily for the challenge. He’s maintained a 3.0 cumulative GPA. “What he’s achieved is an example of what college boxing’s all about,” Martino said. “It’s been a great experience being able to work with him. He’s a gifted athlete and a good student, and we stress that balance of academics and athletics. People loved to come watch him box. He’s going to be hard to replace. He’s a crowd pleaser.” Kotey said he might try to land a few amateur fights this summer before his final semester of college. “It’s been a great experience,” he said. “I got to travel a bunch and met a bunch of great people. I don’t have any intentions of walking away from boxing.”