By Jake Feigleson
Photo by Shane Marshall
Wyatt Koelling of Davis High has been turning heads and leaving people slack-jawed ever since he started wrestling.
The junior is the top-ranked high school wrestler in the Utah for the 190-pound weight class (according to wrestleutah.com), having won the 195-pound division at the Reno Tournament of Champions this year along with numerous other top finishes. For the defending state champion at 182 pounds, success did not come without a price.
Koelling has a work ethic that is unrivaled by most high school athletes. He has always gone the extra mile in practices and that, in turn, has showed in his matches.
Davis High wrestling coach Neal Porter has worked with Koelling ever since Wyatt moved from Logan as a sixth-grader. He has a high opinion of Wyatt as a wrestler and a person.
“(Wyatt) puts in the extra mile,” Porter said. “He wrestles year around and he always has. When other kids are doing other sports, he’s still practicing wrestling, he’s still putting in more time.”
The compilation of Koelling’s achievements and awards over the years are beyond impressive. In addition to that state title as a sophomore in 2014, he was runner-up three times at nationals, won three national championships, and took third in world team trials. Wyatt and his coach credit his success to the same thing.
“I just put in the extra time, ya know? We get told to do 10 shots and I do 11,” Koelling said. “I stay after practice for a couple hours and put some work in… and then go workout.”
For Porter, there is a certain combination of skill and effort that make the junior wrestler special.
“A lot of kids have skill and a lot of kids have physical talent… but they don’t have the work ethic and he doesn’t burn out,” Porter said. “He just keeps going and going and wants to do more and more and he wants to be the best he can. A lot of people say they want to be the best but he actually does the work.”
“There was one match when he was a freshmen at state where he was wrestling a kid from Taylorsville,” Porter said. “He was losing with really short time left and he hit an awesome move that kind of sealed the win for him. It was really memorable for me.”
Koelling’s passion for wrestling is an inspiration to many. He has many different reasons for being a wrestler but he acknowledges there is a different mindset that drives top competitors in his sport, that love of the individual one-on-one battle.
“(I love) the grind, not very many people do it,” Koelling said. “It’s an individual thing. There’s no greater feeling than going and working your guts out and beating someone and knowing it’s all you, there’s no one else you can give the credit to.”
Koelling is always working to get better. He has set his sights high when it comes to wrestling. Porter has seen his progress and believes Wyatt could go far in his wrestling career.
“Wyatt has very, very high goals,” Porter said. “He wants to be on the national Olympic teams so he’s going to be competing in college and beyond as much as he can and as long as he can.”