Accolades keep rolling in for Piedra Vista's wrestling team after its impressive 2012-13 campaign.
Assistant coach Michael Bejar was named the NWCA New Mexico Assistant Coach of the Year on Wednesday in a vote decided by head coaches from across the state.
"It is very surprising to me. I had no idea about it. It is sweet and nice at the same time," Bejar said. "For Levi (Stout) to not be able to get the top nod as coach of the year after what we did, which I might be bias but I think he should have got it with the way the kids dominated at state, maybe this was a consolation prize, I don't know.
"It just goes to show what kind of kids, parents and coaches we have around us. We are a wrestling family."
Stout was happier to see Bejar recognized than he would have been if he won head coach of the year, he said.
"Mike has been coaching for 20 years. Ten years in Arizona and he is getting close to his eighth or ninth year in New Mexico," Stout said. "When he first came into our program, he believed in the system and we bought into him. We went from good to great. Every one of our coaching staff members are real selfless people and bought into it, and now we are cruising."
Bejar, who is the head coach of Mesa View Middle School's wrestling team as well as a math teacher for the school, said Wednesday's award was one he can share with the entire coaching staff.
"We have great assistants with guys like Kooper Saiz, who coaches with me over at Mesa View as my assistant there. The thing (Stout) and I are big on is surrounding yourself with good people. Kooper does that with me, Paul Atencio does the same thing. Troy Ramsted over at Heights Middle School, we all call it feeding the machine. All we want to do is bring kids up through our program and get them to work hard every day."
Stout has been impressed with Bejar's ability to work with kids across all weight classes.
"He has something for everyone. He did great with our heavyweight Kason (Wilkinson) this year and coaches him to a third-place finish in his first year wrestling. Then he works all the way down with guys like Sam Sandoval (106), Jacob Palmgren (120) and Ryan Ruybalid (126)," Stout said.
With all the work that comes with coaching and teaching, Bejar was happy to be surprised by the award.
"It is nice to be rewarded for the time and effort. We aren't in it for the money, we are in it for the kids and to build them into good young men who can be successful in life," Bejar said. "I don't know if winning has hit me yet. When you look at all the assistant coaches there are in wrestling, to be named for New Mexico is pretty awesome."
Stout hopes he can keep his coaching staff in tact for a long time as they build into a 2013-14 season in which PV will be looking for a fourth consecutive state title.
"I think we are the best coaching staff in the state. Every one of my guys goes in with a good attitude, willing to learn new things and open minded when it comes to the different attitudes of kids and other coaches," Stout said. "I can't speak highly enough about my staff."
Bejar is confident the team will maintain its dominance going forward.
"It is unbelievable the kids we have and everything Levi has instilled with everything and the kids all buying into it," he said. "Just Tuesday, we had open mat and already had 18 or 20 kids in there wanting to work. We have a rich tradition here now, and I hope getting our name out there more with any awards we can win helps build it even more."
NOTES: Piedra Vista's 152-pound wrestler Dillon Strunk was crowned the Greater Southwest tournament champion in his weight class last Sunday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. He was named an outstanding wrestler for his performance.
John Livingston may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.