With numerous talented wrestlers returning this year Sand Devils head wrestling coach Kyran Keisling was feeling optimistic about the new season. His optimism was confirmed last week during a very busy opening week.
When asked who looks promising this year Coach Keisling ticks off a long list. Christian Penrod, Taylor Nez, Myron Bryant, Levi Telshaw, Dorian Daw, and Kamryn Whitewater, who finished xx at last year’s state tournament.
“He’s beyond promising,” said Coach Keisling. “He’s a hammer. It’s going to take a really good wrestler to beat him.”
Coach Keisling also had a couple of his wrestlers surprise him last week with their performances: Sophomore Kaleb June and freshman Zach Ruiz.
“Kaleb June won it out of nowhere,” said Keisling. “His performance was just jaw-dropping. And Zach [Ruiz]. We’ve been watching him since he was in eighth grade. He’s one of the most talented kids we’ve seen enter our program.”
The Sand Devils started their week wrestling against the Kanab Cowboys easily defeating them 48-28.
The next day they traveled to Cottonwood for the Mingus Duals where they wrestled against Mingus Union High School and Snowflake High School. The Sand Devils defeated Mingus 53-24, but lost to Snowflake 26-39. The loss against Snowflake ended the Sand Devils winning streak of 35 duals without a loss.
“That [loss] was kind of a big deal,” said Coach Keisling.
Despite losing to Snowflake, Keisling still had several wrestlers return home 2-0: Telshaw, Whitewater, Ruiz, June, Kimball Begay and Myron Bryant.
After a day’s rest the Sand Devils traveled to Panguitch for their first tournament of the season. Fifteen schools attended the tournament, which was conducted in Round Robin style with two pools. In this each wrestler wrestles everyone in their pool – five people - a grueling undertaking with four matches happening Friday and the final one Saturday morning, after which the winners entered an eight-man bracketed tournament. This plays out the rest of Saturday with the losers being eliminated. Those wrestling for first thru fourth place will wrestle eight times in two days.
As a team the Sand Devils finished third out of 15 schools. Individually Whitewater, June and Christian Penrod were each crowned champions in their weight division. Ruiz and Nez were runners-up, and Terran Blackgoat finished third.
“Very proud of the effort our whole team put in,” said Coach Keisling of his team’s performance in Panguitch. “We’ve got some horses in our stable for sure.”