Wyatt Kearn signing

American Falls wrestler Wyatt Kearn signs to Western Wyoming Community College during a ceremony on Dec. 4 at American Falls High School.

The 5 a.m. workouts paid off for Wyatt Kearn.

The defending state champion wrestler from American Falls High signed to wrestle at Western Wyoming Community College on Dec. 4.

“The work I put in was worth it,” Kearn said. “Going in, in the mornings, waking up at 5 o’clock just to get a workout in, it really helped me with everything. The hard work and the dedication to the sport really made everything come together for me.”

For Kearn, Western Wyoming, located in Rock Springs, Wyoming, was the right fit because of its small-town feel.

“I’m from a small school, and my personality fits a smaller town,” Kearn said. “It’s a smaller school, it’s not very crowded. I went to camps with the head coach at Western Wyoming, so I already kind of knew him, and when I went and visited, it was just everything I could imagine and more. It just felt right.”

The Mustangs also boast an impressive wrestling program, finishing eighth at the NJCAA national championships in 2018-19.

Kearn, who plans to study education, will fit right in. Wrestling at 220 pounds, he blitzed his way through the 3A state tournament last year for his first state title, winning his first three matches with pins before beating Priest River’s Aaron Reyes on a technical fall in the championship match.

Last year was also when Kearn started thinking seriously about wrestling at the next level.

“It’s always been a dream of mine, but I didn’t know where to start,” Kearn said. “And when (American Falls’) new coach, Nate Gugelman, came last year, he really started showing me that I could compete at the next level. It really became real to me.”

Under Gugelman’s tutelage, Kearn completely changed up his style, working on attacking while on his feet and improving his movement while in bottom position.

“The technique that he brought into the team really accelerated that and really helped me,” Kearn said.

Before he goes to Western Wyoming, Kearn has big goals that include, of course, repeating as state champion, as well as breaking Boone Giulio’s record for career wins at American Falls. Kearn has 23 wins to go to reach the mark of 172.

“I’m really just taking it one day at a time and working through it, enjoying the last several months of my high school experience,” Kearn said.