BILLINGS — When Billings West junior Keyan Hernandez committed to the University of Iowa wrestling program this fall, it was a childhood dream come true.
“I have a wrestling dummy and I’d put on an Iowa singlet and pretend I was in the NCAA finals or something and winning it. I’ve always dreamed of being an Iowa guy, but it’s unreal to be one,” Hernandez said.
From growing up attending Iowa wrestling camps in the summers, Hernandez will don the ‘real’ Hawkeye singlet beginning in the fall of 2024.
Not only is his older sister a manager for the Hawkeyes, he’ll have a former mentor around. The two-time state champion was teamed with current Iowa wrestler Drake Rhodes for two years, where he was able to study the habits of a future Division I athlete.
“He worked really hard in the wrestling room. So I was like, ‘If I can work as hard as him, maybe I can do it.’ I just looked up to him, as well,” said Hernandez.
After winning at 113 pounds as a sophomore, Hernandez is wrestling at 120 this year. With his head coach and father keeping a watchful eye on the diet, what kind of things does he consume throughout the season?
“Cut out the garbage. The chips, the pop and those kinds of things. The things high in sodium, it keeps all that stuff on,” Jeremy Hernandez said. “He loves Jimmy John’s. I’m going to make him get a job there so I can quit paying for it.”
“My dad, he’s really good at telling me what I can eat and what I can’t eat,” Keyan said. “Sometimes you’ll see a Snickers bar or something and really want that. But if you’re smart about it you work hard in the room you can get pounds off at a time. If you’re smart about what you eat and work hard in the wrestling room it’ll fall off.”
There are exceptions to the rules, though. Keyan got a little taste of that earlier this season after a dual against Billings Skyview. He came in a little light that evening, so he had some McDonald’s on the way home.
Like they say – in moderation, right?