It’s not that Keaton Hulett doesn’t like the spotlight. It’s just that the Creston wrestling standout doesn’t yet feel comfortable with the attention.
Sporting a 24-1 record this season, Hulett is Class 2-A’s top-ranked wrestler at 195 pounds. Now a senior, he made it to the state finals in the same class as a junior before dropping a 3-2 decision to West Delaware’s Adam Reth, currently No. 1 in 2-A at 220.
That résumé would suggest that Hulett has earned his notoriety, but he’s not resting on his laurels.
“I don’t look at The Predicament and things like that,” Hulett said. “I just kind of let it all go. I looked at it when it first came out, and it’s one of those things where it’s nice to have, but it’s something you don’t want to rely on. It’s there, but you’ve proven nothing with a No. 1 beside your name.”
Wrestling isn’t even Hulett’s preferred sport. He was an all-state lineman for the Panthers on the football field, and he plans to continue playing the sport in college.
After a forfeit in Creston’s dual win Tuesday over Lewis Central, Hulett’s career record is 148-31. His only loss this season came in a national tournament in Kansas City.
Although Hulett would have loved to have reached the top of the podium last February, he’s used his loss in the state finals as motivation.
“He’s motivated pretty easily,” Creston coach Darrell Frain said. “He works his tail off all the time. I’m sure he does look back at it a little bit. He’s probably one of the better kids in his weight class this year. I think he looks at that and hopes he can progress and get back there.”
Hulett still thinks about that championship match — only now he can view it from a technical perspective.
“I think about it all the time,” he said. “I’ve watched film a couple times this year just of that match. I may never wrestle that kid again, but I watched that match to see what I need to work on.”
He’s still fine-tuning technique, but Hulett has learned an invaluable lesson over the last year: never stop learning. He was surprised at how much success he had last year in Des Moines.
This season, success is an expectation.
“Honestly, last year, I never really expected to be where I was,” Hulett said. “And then when I had the chance, it was a great feeling. The motivation I took from that last year was huge. It’s a learning experience. You’ve got to work harder to stand on top of the podium. It shows what it takes to be No. 1.
“For some reason, I don’t really stress over (state). I don’t know why. It’s a thing where I expect to be there. I don’t want to sound cocky. I expect to do well. So that’s how I think the preparation will help.”