Billings West’s Keyan Hernandez has been in a class by himself on the wrestling mat.
The sophomore has cruised through the first year and a half of his high school career without a loss, which includes a State AA title last February.
“Just to win it felt amazing. To have it with my dad was even more amazing. We have a bond now I think we’ll never break," Hernandez said.
The word ‘offseason’ doesn’t seem to creep into Keyan’s vocabulary. While the Golden Bears’ football team was battling for a state title this fall, Hernandez won a national tournament down in Iowa in preparation for the upcoming season.
“The cream of the crop is there. He had a Fargo champ in the finals, won freestyle, and Keyan beat him 8-0, major decision’d him," Billings West head wrestling coach and Keyan's father Jeremy Hernandez said. "He didn’t get a point scored on him that weekend in Iowa. He just wrestled really well. If you talk to him, he’s proud of it but he’s moved on.”
Keyan has plenty of time before a decision on his future is to be made, but if it’s an option, there’s no question where he’ll be.
“I want to go wrestle at Iowa with Drake Rhodes, hopefully ones of these days. But for right now I’ve got to worry about grades, the next tournament and the next practice," Keyan said.
“His whole goal since he was two, three was to wrestle at Iowa. My daughter is a manager for the Iowa Hawkeyes, and that’s been his life-long goal is to wrestle for the Iowa Hawkeyes," Jeremy said. "He’s starting in the right direction to hopefully get there one day.”
As for now, Keyan’s focus moves from match-to-match, as he’s as level-headed a teenager you can find. It’s down a long road, but the potential to be West’s first four-time state champion hangs in the balance.
“He knows he’s got work to do, and that’s the best part about it. He’s not complacent, he’s not satisfied. He knows there are some kids in the state that are going to be pretty tough, but he’s just ready to rock an roll," Jeremy said. "That’s just the mindset he gravitated toward. I never pushed him that way, that’s just what he wants. Is he going to get beat this year? Yeah, he probably could. Doesn’t matter. That’s what motivates him. That’s what motivates him to work hard and compete at a high level.”
“I can’t really look at state right now. I’ve got to worry about practice. Once that tournament comes I’ll worry about that, but I can’t really look over anybody. You just can’t do that," said Keyan.