Kahleb Diaz is sticking around to continue his wrestling career.
The 18-year-old Roseburg High School senior, a three-time state placer, recently signed with Umpqua Community College.
“It feels good. It’s kind of been a goal, I guess (to wrestle in college),” Diaz said. “(UCC) is closer to home, so I can stay close to my family. I’ve known coach (Kyle) Temple for a long time and it will be good to have him as my coach.”
Diaz plans to wrestle at 133 pounds for the Riverhawks.
“Kahleb is an explosive wrestler with an endless gas tank,” Temple said. “I have watched him grow as a wrestler and person over the last several years and believe that we’re getting something very special in Kahleb. He’ll make an immediate impact.”
Diaz helped the Indians win Class 6A state team championships in 2018 and ’19. Roseburg finished second behind Newberg last year.
Diaz was the state runner-up at 126 pounds as a junior, losing 10-4 to Ayden Garver of Newberg in the championship match. Diaz, the Southwest Conference champion, finished 32-11 on the season.
“For me, it was a good year,” Diaz said. “I took third my sophomore year, so it was another year of getting better.”
Diaz has compiled an 80-20 record in three varsity seasons at RHS, finishing third at state at 126 as a sophomore and fourth at 120 as a freshman.
He was looking forward to contending for a state crown this winter, but the Oregon School Activities Association postponed the winter sports season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Practice for winter sports is tentatively scheduled to begin May 10, with competition starting May 17.
“It’s been pretty tough,” Diaz said of not having the opportunity to compete this winter. “I wish I had my senior year ... I think I would’ve done a lot of things, like winning a state title.
“I still want to get the feeling of wrestling with my team, I want to be with my coaches and teammates one more year. A few home duals would do it for me. I want to be in the gym again with my teammates and all of our fans, that would make me happy.”
Diaz credited head coach Steve Lander and his assistants for his progress on the mat.
“It’s been an honor wrestling for coach Lander,” Diaz said. “He’s taught me a lot of things — how to be disciplined and push myself. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I’d be as good.”
Other recent signees with UCC include heavyweights Daniel Herinckx of Rogue River and Connor O’Bryan of Newberg.