Wrestling: Enos brings enthusiasm to Kennedy wrestling program
If Kennedy's new squad of wrestlers needs any inspiration, they don't have to look further than their own head coach.
Christian "Dewey" Enos has an impressive wrestling resume for someone who is only 26 and hasn't competed since his freshman year of high school.
Enos attended Silverton schools and joined the Silverton Mat Club at age 7.
"I never won anything too crazy, though I was in the state finals a couple times as a kid," he admitted.
His freshman year of high school, he narrowly missed competing at districts in the 95-pound weight class, thinking it was just the beginning of his way up.
But the following year, his physical exam produced some sobering news: A leaky aortic valve diagnosis from infancy had once again reared its ugly head.
"They told me I couldn't wrestle anymore," he said. "It was heartbreaking."
Even though he could no longer wrestle competitively, Enos didn't even consider quitting the team.
"I was dedicated to my team, my school and my coach," he said. "I made that promise to myself and my team that I'd do that because I loved the sport too much to give it up."
From cleaning mats to wrapping injured body parts to running around town at 5 a.m. to wake up teammates so they wouldn't miss the bus to a meet, Enos took his role as team manager seriously.
His dedication paid off: After graduation, his coach Santos Cantu approached him about helping him start what would become the Salem Elite Wrestling Club.
Through that club, Enos traveled the country going to meets and coaching talented wrestlers like Kaden Kuenzi, last year's 5A state champion from Silverton.
In 2014, he returned to Silverton, first as a middle school wrestling coach, then as head coach of the Silverton Mat Club the following year.
When Kennedy football coach Joe Panuke brought his own kids to the mat club, Enos, who lives in Mount Angel, caught wind that Kennedy was resurrecting its own wrestling program and wanted to be a part of it.
"I thought that's awesome because that school needs it," he said. "Wrestling needs to grow in Oregon. It's awesome when it grows around your community, let alone the state."
Athletic Director Kevin Moffatt was thrilled to hire Enos for the job of leading Kennedy's new wrestling team.
"He's well-respected in the wrestling community," Moffatt said. "He definitely brings enthusiasm for the sport. Wrestling is tough, and you need someone with a good attitude and passion to lead it."
Driven to get the Kennedy program up and running, Enos took the year off from the Silverton Mat Club and not only signed on as head coach for wrestling, but was an assistant football coach this past fall.
"I'm passionate about all sports, and I had to recruit kids," he said. "Once I was hired in June, I was helping at weights in July. I got right in there."
Though he said he didn't take time away from football, he did get football players interested in joining the wrestling team.
Among them was junior Bryce Vandervort, who transferred last year from Canby and was disappointed there was no wrestling program at Kennedy. He'll likely wrestle in the 170-pound weight class.
"He does MMA on the side to stay in shape," Enos said. "He's wrestled a bit growing up. He'll be tough."
Another transfer who has experience is junior Carlos Saravia, who wrestled for North Marion and is shooting for the 113-pound class. He stayed in shape this fall by participating in cross country.
Enos is also excited about Silverton Mat Club member Matthew Morrow, a freshman with two years of experience who will likely wrestle at 106 pounds.
"Two years ago, he weighed 70 pounds," Enos said. "He's going to be my horse, leading the team."
Although only those three have experience, Enos is excited to unleash the potential of the remaining athletes on the team.
"I don't set any limits," he said. "I've seen kids that can't fight themselves out of a wet paper bag become a champion in a year."
He said what's more important than athleticism is commitment.
"I think the impossible is very attainable," Enos said. "Wrestling isn't for the faint of heart; you've got to be a little mean, you've got to be a little scrappy."
Kennedy wrestlers will have their first match Friday at the Deven Dawson Invitational in Harrisburg.