Melvin Hernandez has accomplished a lot in his three years wrestling for David City High School.
This year, he'll compete to become only the second Scout to win three state titles, but in one sense, he’s already won his biggest prize, a scholarship to attend Hastings College.
“Wrestling is just getting to a future,” he said, after signing with Hastings College wrestling coach Tyson Springer on Monday.
Hernandez said he was glad to have his college selection decided and to secure a way to work toward his goal of becoming a guidance counselor. The job of wrestling coach may also be in his future. He also wants to get a master's degree in counseling.
“A lot of people have helped me to get where I am today,” he said. “I would love to do that for some other kids. Especially for wrestlers.”
Hernandez credits his parents, Sabino and Maria Hernandez, for fostering his work ethic.
“They definitely teach me to work hard and be kind and it will lead to success,” he said.
Springer's name might be familiar to some area wrestling fans because he recruited two other standout Scouts to Doane College. Martin Phillips is entering his senior season while Wyatt is a sophomore.
Springer moved on this summer to coach the Broncos, and he knew he’d have to visit David City to talk to Hernandez, who made a trip to the campus in September.
David City coach Tahner Thiem said Hernandez had to work hard and learn a lot before he started to thrive.
“I think this huge scholarship is a great paycheck for all of the hard work and dedication he has shown to the sport of wrestling,” Thiem said.
Hernandez was the first in his family to join wrestling and he had to get past early struggles.
“Melvin did not have a lot of success in his first few years of wrestling,” Thiem said. “In fact, I remember (coach) John Worm telling me that as a club wrestler in his first couple years, he didn't remember him hardly winning a match.”
After working hard at the sport through elementary and then into high school, Hernandez could become the school’s second ever three time state champion. Scott Stara was the first.
After he finished fifth in Class C at 126 pounds as a freshman, Hernandes won state titles in 132 and then 138 pounds. This year, he said, he is hoping to wrestle without having to cut pounds and will consider wrestling at 152 pounds.
As a team, the Scouts were runners up at the individual championships in Omaha but won the state duel. The Scouts were fourth in 2015 and champions in 2016. At the State Duals Tournament, the Scouts won titles in 2016 and 2016 and were fifth this year.