Ke-Shawn Hayes is one of the quietest guys in the room.
The redshirt junior is not normally the one first thought of when looking at the Ohio State wrestling team, with senior captain Myles Martin, redshirt junior Kollin Moore and redshirt senior Micah Jordan on the roster.
Hayes knows he often goes unnoticed. It’s something he has embraced.
“It’s easy to go unnoticed with the talent on our team. I’ve done pretty well so far,” Hayes said. “With the injury I had my freshman year and I also wasn’t named an All-American last year, it especially seems easier to go unnoticed, but I’m just trying to get better every day and improve every time I step on the mats.”
After ending his redshirt freshman season in November after suffering a knee injury in 2016, Hayes bounced back in a huge way last season, recording an overall mark of 29-7 with eight technical falls, seven major decisions and a pin. He placed third in the Big Ten Championships that season, earning the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Championships.
According to Hayes, the knee injury hasn’t affected his ability to compete or earn accolades. This season, he said he is feeling better than ever before.
Hayes said the competition on Ohio State’s roster is a grind to face in practice, but will help him in the long run.
“Anytime you face this high level competition all the time, in our room alone, let alone the Big Ten season, it’s a grind on your body, especially when you’ve been doing it for so long,” Hayes said. “I’ve had a lot of little things here and there like anyone else, but I’m just trying to get better in my wrestling so that I have a lesser risk of another injury. Wrestling when you’re tired after an injury is something that I put off and it really hurt me last year, but I’ve been working on it and it won’t be an issue this year.”
Having success on the wrestling mat has never been a problem for the redshirt junior.
Dating back to his high school days, Hayes was the No. 4 overall recruit by InterMat and finished with a 38-0 record as a senior, leading Park Hill to its third-straight Missouri state championship. He won all but seven of his matches by pin or technical fall and was named the Kansas City All-Metro Wrestler of the Year.
Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said Hayes’ track record in high school made him a valuable recruit and into what he is for the Buckeyes now.
“Ke-Shawn has always been a winner,” Ryan said. “He’s a gritty guy who has great character. He gets it done on the mats and in the classroom as well. He’s a great kid and a leader.”
Hayes has racked up a nice list of accolades on the mats to be proud of, but out of all his accomplishments, Hayes said it’s his academic career at Ohio State that he is most proud of.
“I’m most proud of the fact that I’ll be able to graduate early and have a Master’s Degree by the time I’m finished here,” Hayes said. “That’s definitely what I’m most proud of.”