Heading east is best for West

Oak Ridge grad travels east to find new wrestling home
By: Matt Long
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While the battle between politicians and the University of Davis over the school’s recent athletic cuts wages on, Kyle West has moved on. The 2009 graduate of Oak Ridge High had his future set a year ago at this time with a full scholarship to UC Davis on the books, thanks to an outstanding high school wrestling career, which included two trips to the state wrestling meet and second and fourth-place finishes. West was ranked third in the nation in his weight class during his junior year. Three separated ribs during his senior season ended it prematurely. In the middle of April, however, West, 19, had the wrestling mat pulled out from underneath him when Davis administration decided to cut the wrestling program. “I wasn’t prepared for that,” West said. “Davis blind-sided us because they had told us that the wrestling program was safe. I got really upset and emotionally just broke down. It was a terrible day.” For a short while, the normally motivated West could hardly bring himself to do anything. He couldn’t even think about his future, but knew he didn’t want to leave Davis, hoping something would be worked out. Soon, though, other college coaches began calling. “It was rough because they cut us a week after the recruiting season so a lot of schools already had given out their scholarships,” West said. “Only a small portion of us (at Davis) got recruited.” With wrestling being cut from several California schools, West said he was looking to pick a new school out of state, among which were Utah Valley, Northern Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin and Appalachian State. “California is not a safe place to be on a wrestling team so I wanted to look elsewhere,” West said. “I took my first trip to Utah Valley in May and had a great feeling about the place and didn’t visit anywhere else. The further East you go, you get a lot more respect for wrestlers. Utah Valley has 30,000 students and they don’t have a football team. It’s a wrestling school and I’m excited about it.” West, who is studying business, is thrilled to have the opportunity to wrestle for Utah Valley, a Division I school located in Orem, Utah, about 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City. Utah Valley’s Coach, Greg Williams, told West that he would let him go back to Davis if the school reinstates the wrestling program, but West isn’t even thinking about that and doesn’t want to. “I hope that’s a decision I never have to make,” West said. In meantime, West continues to work out in preparation for his first collegiate season of competition, as last year at Davis he was a red-shirt freshman, meaning he practiced with the team but didn’t compete and thus didn’t lose a year of eligibility. Though he didn’t compete, West learned a lot and improved as a wrestler, which is why he’s got high goals for the upcoming season. “I picked up a lot last year and am a much-better wrestler than I’ve ever been,” said West, who will compete in the 141-pound weight class this season. “My goal is to be a national champion this season. That’s a big goal, but I have no reason to set it any lower. I know what it takes to do that job.” West said he’s grateful to have come through the wrestling program at Oak Ridge High, as well as the El Dorado Hills Wrestling Club, saying the two organization have always given him great support.