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Family ties: Wrestling captivates Billings West father, son, daughter

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Posted at 2:26 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 18:55:30-05

BILLINGS -- Dividends are coming to fruition for Billings West wrestling coach Jeremy Hernandez.

He said his Bears have seen a lot of progress in the past 10-12 years and that more than 50 wrestlers are out this season, a high mark for the Bears that includes a pair of state champs.

One of the newest faces is also one of the most dominant: freshman Keyan Hernandez, a chip off the old block and, according to dad, even more tenacious.

"He's a Tazmanian Devil. He's a lot tougher than I am," Jeremy Hernandez told MTN Sports. "He has a gas tank, he just goes and goes and goes. He's pretty technical and when he's got to get funky, he'll do some pretty crazy things. He'd have pinned me when I was a freshman."

Keyan showcased that gas tank opening his high school career earlier this month with a pair of pins over opponents from Bozeman High and Bozeman Gallatin in the 103-pound weight class. And he hasn't lost yet with a 6-0 record, including five pins and a technical fall.

He smiles thinking back to his first competitive match circa 10 years ago, but he doesn't remember where -- or whether -- he won.

"I just remember it was like ... I was just rolling around, didn't really know what to do," Keyan told MTN Sports. "Just rolling around with the other kid."

"He started when he was 4 years old, but he's been around it since he was six months old," Jeremy recalled.

What kind of stuff do you do with a 4-year-old on the wrestling mats?

"Whatever he wants," Jeremy continued. "When he first started, he went out and wrestled and did whatever he wants. You teach him a basic half stand-up and that kind of stuff, just basically let them learn their body at that age."

"He just put me onto the wrestling mats at West (where Hernandez was coaching) and I just kind of crawled around on them and just started from there," Keyan said.

Keyan's older sister Rynzi doesn't wrestle, but she already has him beaten in one sense. She's a college freshman at wrestling powerhouse Iowa.

"She's a manager for the wrestling team," Jeremy said. "She gets to travel with them -- like, if they go to Rutgers, New Jersey, she gets to go."

"Yeah, I was kind of jealous at first that she went to Iowa because I've always wanted to go there," Keyan said. "So, I was kind of mad at first, but now I'm happy."

"She video tapes their duals and when they go on road trips, she gets food for those guys, so it's not like she just sits around," Jeremy continued. "She really has a lot of work to do."

Rynzi never wrestled and was never a manager at West. But she's found the family niche 1,000 miles from home in Iowa City.

"She just likes wrestling, watching her brother and watching me coach," Jeremy said. "Being at Iowa for a semester, she came home and she's trying to school me on the wrestling aspect and how things work. She knows her stuff, but she's still got a long way to go."

And plenty of time to learn. By the time Keyan hopes to wrestle for the Hawkeyes, Rynzi hopes to have a degree in neonatal intensive care nursing.

In the now moment, though, younger brother is chasing another win -- preferably via pin.