Oak Ridge seniors remember the good old days

Wrestling forges friendship between Kyle Sundby, Kyle West
By: Matt Long
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Before there was an El Dorado Hills Wrestling Club, there was Kyle Sundby and Kyle West. The two Oak Ridge seniors recently completed their final high school wrestling season and remember the good old days fondly. Back in 2001, the two fourth graders were taught the sport by Sundby’s dad, Mike, and practiced in Sundby’s garage. Sundby was the better of the two, schooling West daily. “My older brother wrestled and my dad got me into the sport,” Sundby said. “I’d been wrestling since I was five or six years old so when Kyle first came over, I was much better than he was. We became good friends and I taught him some moves and helped him out.” West, who went on to become the more accomplished wrestler, remembered his start in the sport well. “I was terrible,” West said. “I was a little bigger than him but he beat me up so bad. We spent several hours on that 10-by-10 wrestling mat in his garage. That’s where it all started. I owe a lot of my success to Kyle and Mike Sundby.” Even though West was getting worked over daily, he still enjoyed it and that’s why he stayed with the sport. “We had a lot of fun,” West said. “After we wrestled we’d jump on the trampoline and then climb up a rope hung from his tree.” It had to be fun for West, because not many kids would stick with any sport after getting beat up every time they competed. “I probably stuck with wrestling because I could see myself getting better,” West said. “I knew I was only going to get beat up for so long.” West’s dad had T-shirts printed up for when the boys competed in tournaments. The T-shirts said the Kyle and Kyle Wrestling Team. Soon there after, Mike Sundby, who was then the coach of the Marina Village wrestling team, started the El Dorado Hills Wrestling Club, which now has 62 members. As time went by, West continued to improve at the sport and in seventh or eighth grade, West eventually improved enough that he was now the better of the two wrestlers. This didn’t hurt the friendship, though, as the two are still best of friends today. “Kyle kept working and working and focused on wrestling, while I was also playing football,” Sundby said. West went on to excel in high school, twice placing in the state tournament, including a second-place finish last year. Sundby never made it to the state tournament, but had a solid high school career nonetheless. West praised Sundby, who said he was a better wrestler than the results may have shown. “Kyle is a very good wrestler,” West said. “Even in high school, he was one of the few guys in the room that could take me down. He put a lot of pressure himself and maybe that’s why he didn’t get the kind of success he deserved.” While West will wrestle at UC Davis next season, Sundby said he’s wrestled his final match. That match came at the Masters Tournament, where Sundby, wrestling in the 152-pound weight class, was competing two weight classes higher than he normally wrestled. “That last match was pretty emotional for me,” Sundby said. “It was a close match and I barely lost and I knew it was the last time I was going to wrestle. When you do something for a long time like I did with wrestling, it becomes a part of your life.” Sundby said he has no plans wrestling in college. “Wrestling’s a tough sport,” Sundby said. “Dan Gable (famous wrestler and coach) once said, ‘once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.’ It’s the toughest sport and you have to watch your weight and have to have great desire. Right now I don’t miss it, but I’m sure a month from now I’ll start missing it.” While his wrestling career is over, Sundby said he could see himself coaching some day. West will always have a great deal of respect for his friend and fellow wrestler. “One thing I’ll always remember about those early days was walking into the wrestling room that first day and seeing Kyle,” West said. “I was thinking, ‘whoa, he’s good.’” Wrestling brought the two friends together eight years ago and wrestling will always be apart of their lives. They’re two boys who practiced and worked and sweated and cried and laughed together while building a friendship that will last a lifetime.