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Midland Roundtable AOY: Billings West's Keyan Hernandez's rare wrestling diversion

Keyan Hernandez AOY
Posted at 2:24 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 16:24:13-04

(Editor's note: MTN Sports is featuring a Midland Roundtable Athlete of the Year finalist nightly leading into this year's awards banquet Wednesday, May 15, at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. Ten graduating seniors (five boys, five girls) in the Billings area are nominated annually by coaches and activities directors before Roundtable members, a group of longtime sports enthusiasts in Billings, vote on one male and one female winner. In rare instances, the award has been shared.)

BILLINGS — Keyan Hernandez eats, sleeps, breathes one thing: wrestling. However, there is a rare exception for the Billings West senior.

“I’m never really not wrestling, I guess. But if I’m not, I’m usually on the video games playing with my friends,” Hernandez said.

It's natural to wonder if he dominates video games like he does the wrestling mats. How about this? Hernandez is West’s only four-time state champion, led the Bears to team titles his last two years, outscored high school opponents 1,212 to 10. And — wrestling for his head-coaching father Jeremy — was never once put on his back.

"You know, getting put on your back is not very fun. It’s kind of scary. And when I was little I got put on my back a lot, so I kind of figured out how to not do that anymore in high school,” he said with a knowing smile.

Same outcome recently at the national level where Hernandez won the title at 126 lbs.

Next, he steps into his lifelong dream of wrestling for the University of Iowa. Hernandez pretty much came out of the womb wearing a Hawkeyes singlet and shortly after was wrestling pillows and stuffed animals in his basement.

Four years ago as a freshman, Hernandez recalled his first youth match to MTN Sports.

“I just was rolling around, didn’t really know what to do … just rolling around,” he said, though not remembering who won.

How times have changed. Now as he aims to make a name for himself at Iowa, naturally, there’s already one name that comes to mind.

“Caitlin Clark, yeah, she’s pretty cool, pretty good. I met her once," he said with another smile. "(It was) awkward. Not really talking a lot, just … 'Hi Caitlin, I’m Keyan' and that’s it.”

If Clark is at all a wrestling fan, maybe someday she recognizes the name Keyan.

Midland Roundtable Athlete of the Year

2024 Female finalists: Kourtney Grossman (West), Halle Haber (West), Torie Jamieson (Senior), Piper Jette (Senior), Breanna Williams (Skyview).

2024 Male finalists: Maclain Burckley (Senior), Tyce Casterline (Lockwood), Keyan Hernandez (West), Kyler Northrop (Central), Braden Zimmer (West).