Kyle Sand right at home as the new wrestling coach at Grand Junction

(Photo courtesy of Doug Ottewill/Mile High Sports Magazine)

For 16 years, Kyle Sand stood in a class all by himself. A standout wrestler for Arvada West, Sand went through his entire high school wrestling career without suffering a single loss.

It goes without saying that he claimed four state titles in that span. After high school he wrestled at Adams State University in Alamosa and later became an assistant coach. His coaching career now continues at the level he shined the brightest as he has been named as the new head coach at Grand Junction High School.

In his time as an assistant at Adams, he quickly realized that his work as a coach has far outweighed his accomplishments as a wrestler and he's excited to keep that work moving forward.

"I have more pride in my coaching accolades than I do my actual wrestling accolades," Sand said. "I coached a national champion at Adams State and that's what I would call one of my proudest moments in my coaching and wrestling overall career. It's more of a selfless act."

That mentality right there is what makes Sand a perfect fit at the high school level. He can think back to the early 2000's when he was looking to become the first Colorado wrestler to go undefeated all four years.

All these years later, he can still remember how crucial his high school coaches were to the process.

"They were very significant," he said. "They mentored me through, mentally, trying to help me with the pressures of that. They helped with preparation and the process. Focusing on the process helped me deal with a lot of the mental pressures as well. I always relied on them for advice and direction."

His parents taught him at a young age that the most rewarding acts are the selfless ones and he feels that's a big reason he took so easily to coaching.

Remembering the impact his coaches had on him and combining it with his folks' message that service is rewarding, he can't wait to begin impacting these kids through a sport that has become such a big part of his life.

And the opportunity to do it at Grand Junction made the opportunity so much better for him.

"They have a rich tradition already," Sand said. "Obviously a head coaching position appealed to me. I knew one day being able to run my own program would be very appealing."

And it gives him the opportunity to dive back into a world where he became a household name with his fourth state championship win. He became the first Colorado wrestler to finish career undefeated, going wire to wire from 2001 to 2004. He was the only one to hold that distinction until this last February when Windsor's Dominick Serrano matched the accomplishment.

Sand wasn't able to be at Pepsi Center to witness Serrano's historic win, but kept track from afar.

"I was following it," Sand said. "I usually try and get down there and it would've been great to see the young man accomplish what he did. I'm proud of him. I can't say anything but good things about him."

Since he last had his hand raised as a Colorado high school wrestler, Sand has learned the value of passing experience and knowledge to future generations of wrestlers. He now has the chance to do that as the lead guy for the Grand Junction Tigers.

Like Arvada West was in the early 2000's, Grand Junction &mash; already one of the top programs in the state — figures to be even better with Sand involved.