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Pasco's Covington dreams big

I spent much of my Wednesday evening talking to wrestling coaches, trying to get a handle on the fast-approaching district tournaments.

Many of the conversations centered on the 145-pound weightclass at the CBBN 3A district, which is littered with state-quality guys.

While talking with Pasco coach Jay Covington about his outstanding 145-pounder, Cody Rush, I asked if he had expected Rush to make it to state last year as a junior.

His response was refreshing.

“I’m naive enough, I’m thinking all 28 kids should get to state,” he said, accounting for the varsity and JV competitor each school fields at district. “But realistically, if we can only get 20 of them, that’s fine.”

I burst our laughing. Couldn’t help it.

That would be a record, of course, for a 3A or 4A team to push 20 kids through to the state tournament. But it “realistically” would be “fine” for the Bulldogs.

“You got to dream it in order to make it happen,” Covington summed up.

You can laugh with me, but actually, Covington isn’t talking out of his ... elbow.

It’s likely that same attitude that made him a standout football player and wrestler at Pasco, earning him the Herald’s nod as the Tri-City Athlete of the Year in 1986.

He took over the Pasco wrestling program in the fall of 2007, having previously served as an assistant to Bob Bodnar.

But before taking over as head coach at Pasco, Covington ran the program at Robertson High in Las Vegas, N.M., helping turn a basketball town into a wrestling hotbed.

“We started off as one of the worst teams around,” he said. “By the time I left, we had a lot of good assistant coaches and dads, aunts and uncles getting in there, rolling around.”

He didn’t say it with braggadocios, marveling at his accomplishment. It was simply a statement of what can happen when people dream big, and believe. And in Covington’s final season, Robertson had kids wrestling in 10 of the 14 finals.

“The expectations have to be where, we’re going to state, we’re going to be in the finals and we’re going to win things.“It can be done.”