‘Pure, unadulterated heart’

‘Pure, unadulterated heart’

Page fields trio of wrestling champs


A year after winning two individual state crowns, the Page wrestling team surpassed that number last Friday night.

The Sand Devils left their imprint at the Arizona Division IV state wrestling tournament with three state champions.

Sophomore Zachery Ruiz got things started by posting an OT victory in the 113-pound bracket. In similar fashion, junior Kimball Begay needed an extra session to outlast his opponent in the 195 finals. Senior Cheyenne Richardson capped a blissful day for Page as he captured gold in the heavyweight division.

“It’s a great day for Page High School,” Sand Devil coach Kyran Keisling said. “I coached a long time for a day like this. They don’t happen very often to where everything just comes together.

“The kids wrestled with heart and they wrestled to the end,” he said. “They beat kids with tenacity and determination so this is the most satisfying feeling a coach can feel.”

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie

Page wrestler Cheyenne Richardson points to the crowd after claiming the state title in the 285-pound weight class last Friday night. Richardson pinned Phoenix Northwest Christian wrestler Dominick Sahhar in the second period.

As the tournament’s top seed in his weight division, Ruiz lived up to that billing by enduring a 6-4 OT triumph over Cael Porter of Mogollon. In the extra period, Ruiz rolled out of a headlock for the win.

‘This is a great feeling,” Ruiz said. “I’m just thankful that I was able to roll out of his headlock as quick as I did.”

Early on he trailed 4-0 but the Page sophomore battled back and took a 5-4 lead heading into the third period. Trailing 6-5, Ruiz sent the match to OT with Porter assessed a point for stalling.

“I had to be more offensive-minded,” he said of his comeback. “If I didn’t I wasn’t going to score.”

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie

Page junior Kimball Begay shows his emotions after winning the 195-pound bracket during the Arizona Division IV state wrestling tournament last Friday night in Prescott Valley, Arizona.

With the match going back and forth, Keisling said the state title could have gone either way but Ruiz came into the championship match with the intent of winning.

“They were just very evenly matched and it came down to that last little bit,” he said. “Overtime usually comes down to the kid that is better conditioned and technically sound. They also need to want it more and Zach is all of those things.”

Keisling said Begay’s match played itself out in a similar manner.

“I felt like we won those two matches with pure downright unadulterated heart,” he said. “You got to have that in overtime.”

While trailing 4-2, Begay came up with an escape to send the match into OT against top-seed Caiden Hall of Willcox High. In that extra session he came up with a takedown to come away with a 6-4 win.

“I was laser-focused,” Begay said. “During practice I worked hard drilling, trying to keep up with my conditioning because in state you’re going to get matches like this to where someone is going to test you.”

In the last finals of the tournament, Richardson cast out plenty of doubt as he pinned Phoenix Northwest Christian’s Dominick Sahhar in the second period while trailing 5-4.

“I thought Cheyenne was going to quit but he rolled him,” Keisling said. “He stuck him and that’s another match won by heart.”

With Richardson playing basketball at the start of the season, the Page coach said, “He’s as green as they get but he’s athletically gifted.”

“His strength and speed is uncanny,” he said.

With the points he earned very hard to come by, Richardson said he never lost hope.

“All your motivation is right here,” Richardson said, while pointing to his chest. “Winning the championship was in my brain the whole time. I was not going to lose in front of my family. I had a will to win.”

 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

Are you a digital subscriber? Read the most recent three weeks of stories by logging in to your online account.

  Find newsstand locations at this link.

Or, subscribe via mail or online here.

About The Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at qjodie@navajotimes.com