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Kyler honored at West Point graduation
Saturday, July 17, 2010
By Leah Irwin Staff Writer
Five years after becoming a Pennsylvania state wrestling champion, Matt Kyler of Clearfield graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with the most wrestling victories in the history of the school with 144 wins.
On May 22, Kyler, son of Sid and Cecilia Kyler, received his diploma from President Barack Obama. He was also given several special awards for his accomplishments in athletics and academics.
Each year at graduation, West Point awards the Coach K Teaching Character Through Sports award to one cadet and one coach. This year's recipient was Kyler. The award is given in honor of Mike Krzyzewski, basketball coach of the Duke Blue Devils and a West Point graduate.
"Coach K was known for being honest and a coach with high character," said Kyler. "The award is given to an athlete who exemplifies leadership and character."
Kyler was also awarded the Army Athletics Association trophy, an award given to one male and one female athlete who contribute the most to army athletics, and the Carl R. Arvin Memorial award, given to the graduate who best distinguished himself in the areas of leadership, scholarship and commitment to Army wrestling.
Kyler wanted to go to West Point at a young age. "I guess my dad watched too many John Wayne movies," said Kyler. When he was in high school, his desire to attend the academy faded until he was recruited to wrestle there. Kyler visited the school and felt that he fit in.
"West Point's mission statement is to train commissioned officers in the U.S. Army and to develop leaders of character," said Kyler, who graduated as a second lieutenant.
Attending West Point gave Kyler a different experience than most college students. "It's not the same as a normal college," said Kyler. "We wore uniforms to class and it was your duty to go to class. We had formation every morning, then after class I had wrestling practice then I would study."
Students at West Point take core classes, such as English and history, just like any other college student, but they also take classes such as politics, foreign relations and the history of military art. Kyler, as a civil engineer major, took classes with emphasis on math and science.
Cadets also have to take a number of physical fitness courses such as military movement, running, obstacle courses, grappling, boxing and swimming. "We would have to swim in uniforms and combat gear," said Kyler.
Each summer West Point cadets undergo military training. Kyler's first summer was spent at the "Beast Barracks" where he went through basic training.
"West Point has three pillars: academic, military and physical. Their goal is to make an intelligent, confident and physically fit product," said Kyler.
On top of academics, Kyler was also on the West Point wrestling team. West Point belongs to the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association. "It was a pretty tough conference," said Kyler. "It had the Ivy League schools and the Patriot League schools."
Kyler has been wrestling since he was 5 years old. In high school, he wrestled for the Clearfield Bisons and won the state title in 2005. After four years of wrestling for West Point, Kyler had earned 144 victories, breaking the school's record for the most wins.
Now Kyler is at Fort Benning in Georgia taking an infantry officer basic course. He will graduate from the course on Oct. 28. He plans to coach wrestling at West Point from January to June 2011. He will then be placed in an Army unit.
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