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2013-12-18 / Sports

Pickens loses battle with cancer

OTISVILLE — Former LakeVille wresting coach Jeff Pickens, 54, died at his home Saturday of cancer. He had been the wrestling coach at LakeVille for 35 years. A special memorial service will be held at the school. The date for that service is yet to be determined. LakeVille will recognize coach Pickens at a special meet celebrating its 50 years of wrestling on Jan 8. They will also dedicate their newly renovated facility to coach Pickens on that date.

Pickens became a varsity assistant at LakeVille in 1979. He took over the head coaching duties in 2001.

“Today (Saturday) was very emotional for student athletes in our community as we lost our former head coach Jeff Pickens Friday evening to a battle with cancer,” LakeVille coach Dan Huggler said. “Our wrestlers responded by taking third at the Marlette Team Invitational (on Dec. 7) and first place this week in the Mt. Morris Invitational.

“They performed to the best of their abilities in the midst of great adversity.”

“There is a sadness in the building, you can feel it,” LakeVille Athletic Director Drew Johnson said. “Coach Pickens meant a lot to the wrestling program. His teams were always well coached, very disciplined and extremely tough.

“That’s how he coached them to be. He has been a great leader for student-athletes at LakeVille for more than a decade. He is respected by our entire community for the way he inspired his athletes. He will truly be missed.” — K.W.

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