West eager for wrestling season

By: Matt Long
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After two years of waiting, Kyle West is ready to take his first step into collegiate wrestling. The 2009 Oak Ridge graduate red-shirted in his first season at UC Davis despite earning the starting spot at 141 pounds, learning valuable lessons of wrestling at the collegiate level. After Davis dropped its wrestling program, West transferred to Utah Valley, but a back injury forced him to miss the entire season a year ago. Now healthy, West, 20, is ready as he’s ever been to get back on the mat. “I’m going to be an All-American and my goal is to be a national champion,” West said. West has always set his sites high. In high school his goal was to win a state championship, even as a freshman, and now that he’s in college, his goal is to be a national champion. Despite red-shirting his freshman year at Davis, West still had the sixth most wins on the team. Though upset that the school dropped the wrestling program, West enjoyed and benefited from his year with the team. “It was a great year,” West said. “I loved it there and I loved the team, but we had the mat pulled out from underneath us. Even though I earned the starting spot, Coach Lenny Zalesky thought it would be a good idea to red-shirt me. It allowed me to work on some things and I was always wrestling with the older guys and I learned a lot and got a lot better.” During practice at Utah Valley last September, West felt a sharp pain in his back and after several different tests to find out what happened, he learned that he had a herniated disc. “It was pretty discouraging,” West said. “I didn’t need surgery, though, and it got better and the rest of the season I still worked out, but I didn’t compete.” West said he spent the rest of the season focusing on sharpening his wrestling skills and working his technique. He also watched hours upon hours of wrestling film. “That has put me in good position to succeed,” West said. “I expect to win a national championship. I sat on the couch watching guys I know I can beat win last year.” To reach All-American status, West must finish in the top-eight in the country in the 141-pound weight class. The NCAA Wrestling Championships will be held in March.