KEYSER - On Thursday, Keyser wrestling coach Colin Rotruck made the following pronouncement on the Keyser High School Wrestling Facebook page, “I am extremely proud to say that Adam Kephart and Tristin Fox will be continuing their wrestling careers at Fairmont State next year. Congratulations to them and their families.”

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER - On Thursday, Keyser wrestling coach Colin Rotruck made the following pronouncement on the Keyser High School Wrestling Facebook page, “I am extremely proud to say that Adam Kephart and Tristin Fox will be continuing their wrestling careers at Fairmont State next year.  Congratulations to them and their families.”
With Rotruck’s proud announcement came a plethora of well wishes and congratulations directed at both Tristin Fox and Adam Kephart and their families, as certainly should be the case.  In both Fox and Kephart, Fairmont State is gaining two fantastic, dedicated wrestlers, but also two fantastic, dedicated people.
Both certainly have the full endorsement of Rotruck, “The best is yet to come from these two. I have two boys and would be honored if they grew up to be like either of these fine young men. We as a staff are very proud of them and what they will represent at Fairmont. I just became Fairmont State’s number one fan.”
Wrestling was added back as the 17th sport for Fairmont State Athletics in 2019, after a hiatus that dates back to the 1982-1983 seasons. The Fighting Falcons compete in the Division II Mountain East Athletic Conference. While really just getting things back off the ground, Fairmont finished sixth in the Mountain East Conference Championships in their first season back on the mat in 36 years.
As Frankfort’s Noah Kiszka indicated when he committed to Fairmont State to wrestle recently, both Fox and Kephart will now have a chance to make their mark on a program that’s really just getting started.  
Fairmont has done an excellent job at recruiting in-state and regional talent. Several wrestlers from the WVSSAC’s Region I with state tournament experience, like Fox and Kephart, have been added to the Falcons’ rolls. Along with Frankfort’s Kizska, the Keyser duo make a total of three wrestlers recruited from Mineral County.
Keyser wrestling Coach Colin Rotruck says of Fox, “Tristin is THE toughest kid both physically and mentally I have ever coached in 17 years. He works so hard and has such determination.”
Fox’s journey with wrestling began at a very young age, “I started when I was seven years old because I had some friends getting into it,” Tristin explained. While having friends getting into it may have been the impetus for his involvement, Fox quickly developed not just an aptitude but a passion for the sport that’s carried on throughout his high school career, and no doubt will continue on to Fairmont.
Tristin has enjoyed a highly successful wrestling career at Keyser. “I would say my wrestling career at Keyser was really good. My career record was 109-21, and that was with having to take my sophomore year off due to a football injury,” Fox stated.
As a junior, Fox placed second in the meat grinder that is the Region I tournament to advance to the state tournament in Charleston. At the state tournament, Fox would advance all the way to the state championship match where he again finished second. As a senior, Fox again finished second in the tough Region 1 rankings to qualify for the state tournament and entered the tournament as the state’s second-ranked wrestler in the state. After winning his first match, Fox was unfortunately forced to withdraw with an injury.
In addition to being a top-level wrestler, Fox enjoyed a successful career on the gridiron as he was a key contributor in the Golden Tornado football program as well. Fox made quite a splash on social media for a hard hit he delivered against Liberty-Harrison in first-round playoff action this season.
Tristin indicates that he feels better prepared for academic life in college thanks to the excellent education he’s received at Keyser High School. According to Fox, “Keyser High School prepared me because I had some excellent teachers that pushed me along the way.”
“I picked Fairmont because it was close to home and I will be getting to wrestle with a couple of my friends from high school again. The wrestling coaches seem cool and were very good at explaining what I needed to know about wrestling in college,” Fox explains.
Fox is not overly concerned with the elevation in competition as he transitions in wrestling from the high school to collegiate ranks, “I don’t expect college wrestling to be a big transition for me. I feel like I will take off where I was in high school and win a lot of matches. I will have good coaches just like I had in high school. The biggest difference is that my classes will be harder.”
Wrestling is a sport that requires immense individual commitment and drive to be successful. Tristin Fox has demonstrated that he has that commitment and drive in spades.  Still, having a support system backing his efforts has helped Fox tremendously, “My mom and dad have supported me the most. They did everything in their power to make me the best person and wrestler I can be. They were at every match I've ever had and took me everywhere I've ever needed to get better.”
According to Fox, “Coach Collin Rotruck has also helped me very much, he was always on me in school and in the practice room to be the best I can be. Not only was he a good coach he was also a good friend.”
Keyser wrestling Coach Colin Rotruck says of Adam Kephart, “Adam works and trains so hard! He actually likes to practice and drill! He likes challenges and never backs down from one.”
For Kephart, he initially turned to wrestling to improve his skills in another sport, football. “I first started wrestling my freshman year. I decided to try it out after Coach Sean Biser encouraged me to wrestle because it would improve my skills on the football field and some of my buddies were wrestling as well.”
While wrestling may have certainly aided Kephart’s efforts to become a better football player and key contributor on the both the gridiron and baseball diamond for the Golden Tornado, in time, he paid his dues on the wrestling mat, getting better and better as the years progressed.  Ultimately, Kephart would enjoy success at the regional level and ultimately become a state tournament qualifier.
“My first two years of Keyser wrestling were a huge learning process.  I wrestled junior varsity my freshman year, then varsity my next three years. I would definitely say being a state qualifier my junior year is one of my highlights.  I first realized that I might have the opportunity to wrestle in college after Fairmont State messaged Coach Rotruck last year asking about me,” Kephart explained.
As a junior, Adam worked his way through the arduous, demanding Region I tournament to earn third place and qualify for the state wrestling tournament. At the state tournament, he gained valuable experience wrestling among wrestling’s elites.  As a senior, Kephart finished in fifth place at the Region I tournament.
After an excellent athletic and academic career at Keyser, Adam is confident that he’s prepared for the academic rigors that lie ahead, “I would say the teachers and faculty at Keyser have prepared me for college the best they could. I feel like I am very well prepared because of them.”
According to Kephart, “I picked Fairmont because when I went for my visit in January, I felt very comfortable there and I like how the campus is compact. I am excited to wrestle for them because it is a very young program and I would like to be able to continue to build onto it.”
In terms of the physical challenge associated with college wrestling, Adam acknowledges the increased challenge but points to an advantage he’ll experience as well, “The transition from high school to college wrestling will be different from what I’m used to.  It will be a lot more competitive and I love to compete in everything I do so I feel it will be a perfect fit for me.”
According to Kephart, “It will be easier to be able to focus on just one sport instead of three so I will be able to put all my time and effort into this amazing sport.”
Adam acknowledges that while wrestling has demanded a gigantic amount of personal commitment and drive, he’s had an excellent support system behind him, “I owe all my accomplishments to God, my family, and my coaches. My parents supported me in everything I do. They’re always there for me. My coaches have pushed me beyond my limits to better myself, from getting on me when I would slack in practice to staying after practices to work with me on things I struggled with.”
According to Kephart, “If you told me my freshman year that I would be wrestling in college, I would have never believed you. I am so thankful for everyone that helped me along the way and I am excited to see what my future under Coach Freije holds.”