Though Monday hasn't lost yet, there have been scares. The most alarming occurred in a match last December with Mike Sheets, another state champion. Sheets, a senior at Tahlequah High, hadn't beaten Monday in 10 matches dating back to junior high school, but carried his own streak of 35 straight wins to the showdown in a packed Washington gymnasium. As the meet progressed toward the two wrestlers' 148-pound class, Monday seemed undisturbed by the possibility of losing as he cheered his teammates on. His parents, as usual, were perched up in the rafters at the farthest point from the mat. "I don't want him to hear his mother screaming," says Fred Monday.
Monday took immediate control and at the start of the third period held both a 5-1 lead and the advantage position on Sheets. Sheets then escaped for a point and promptly dropped Monday for the first time in the match, using a daring single-leg takedown move on his right ankle to bring the score to 5-4. Monday escaped (6-4), but Sheets put him down a second time with the same move (6-6). Once more, as the match drew to a close, Monday escaped only to be put down by Sheets. At the end, Sheets led 8-7 on points, but Monday was awarded a point for riding time amassed earlier and salvaged an 8-8 tie—the only one in his high school career. A month and a half later, Kenny beat Sheets in a rematch at Yukon, Okla. "Sometimes Kenny gets a little careless," said Jones after the tie. "He doesn't believe anyone can take him down."
For the most part, they can't. Since his freshman season, when he won 38 matches (19 by falls), Monday has annihilated most of his opponents. "When I started to see that I could win at this and win consistently, it was fun," Kenny says. "I really began to fall in love with wrestling." The affair intensified as Monday grew in size and spirit. He pinned 20 of his 35 foes as a 115-pound sophomore and 25 of 33 as a junior. This season he took 28 of 35 matches by falls.
As evidence of his dedication to the sport, Monday even quit football last fall despite being an outstanding defensive back on a state-ranked team. "The injury risk was too high," he says. Yet he places wrestling in perspective, seeing it as complementary to his academic pursuits and "the ticket" to his dreams. "It will get me to college, and from there it's up to me." His immediate sights are on whatever sort of Olympics are held in 1984, and then, coaching. "In the long run, wrestling will pay off," he says.
A number of college coaches are hoping that Monday will bring them dividends. Their eyes have been on the littlest Monday since his YMCA days and now the parade is passing through Tulsa once again, as it did when Kenny's brothers were being recruited. Kenny still hasn't been signed, although Oklahoma or Oklahoma State would seem to have the inside track. Having had two Monday brothers under his wing, Sooner Coach Stan Abel is going to the mat but good for Kenny.