Hailee Ham sang at the state wrestling tournament.

Even before the Class 3A Region 4 Wrestling Tournament concludes this weekend, at least one Tiger has already qualified for next week’s Colorado High School State Wrestling Championships.

Hailee Ham, a freshman at La Junta High School, will be first on the mat Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. as the well-known teen will sing the national anthem to open the state meet.

“I started singing when I was really young. My first live performance was at Early Settler’s Day seven years ago and I’ve been singing ever since,” said Ham. “This is by far the biggest event I have ever sung at. It’s exciting but I’m a little bit nervous knowing there will be a few thousand people there. I sang on the intercom at school yesterday and it was hard even then, knowing that everyone was listening.”

Ham was nominated by La Junta High School choir teacher Aubrey Krengel who submitted a video of Ham singing the national anthem at a LJHS basketball game.

“I’ve worked with Miss Krengel for a long time and she is helping me prepare for next week,” said Ham. “She was the one who got me more involved with school events.”

Ham says she always dreamed of singing on the big stage, even though her sights have shifted recently.

“When I was little, I would always imagine myself being a famous singer,” she said. “But when I got older, I started to think I probably couldn’t make it that far. I decided I want to go in to the medical field to be a general surgeon. It’s funny because now this comes up people are telling me I could make it big some day. I still love to sing and even if I don’t make it, I want to be a surgeon.”

Ironically, the trip to Denver next week will serve as just one of a handful of visits for the youngster with big dreams. “I’ve only been to Denver a few other times in my life; maybe five times” said Ham, “and never to the Pepsi Center. I went to Denver for All-State Choir and I sang once before for the girl’s state wrestling tournament, but never like this.”

Here’s to wishing Hailee all the best of luck, on this, her sixth visit to Denver. Go get ‘em!