Heights’ comeback kids almost pulled another one off Saturday at the Class 6A wrestling tournament, but just as in regionals, Manhattan’s lead was too much to overcome.
“They sent 14 (from regional), we sent 10,” Heights coach Mike Church said. “We were the underdog. We were ranked sixth coming into the tournament, and we were supposed to place four or five kids. We placed eight in the top four.
“We had a phenomenal tournament. I’m proud of every one of my kids.”
The defending 6A champion Falcons opened Saturday’s finals with Sean DeShazer capturing the 106-pound division. But Heights’ only other gold came from Matt Reed at 170 pounds, and the Indians won the team crown with 165 1/2 points, 13 more than Heights.
Reed did his part, wrapping up his second straight state title, taking the 170-pound class after winning at 160 a year ago.
He was pitted against Manhattan’s Brian Wood in the final. Just a week ago, Reed defeated Wood in the regional final. Reed had a couple of first-period takedowns Saturday and led 6-2 early in the second period when Wood had to forfeit because of an injury.
Still, that didn’t diminish the sweetness of back-to-back state championships for Reed, who said his strategy was similar to regionals.
“Basically we spent a lot of time on the mat,” he said. “I wanted to stay on my feet a lot, get a lot of takedowns.”
He said he was prepared to go the distance if necessary.
“I was kind of prepared to go the whole match,” Reed said.
Reed, an Eagle Top 11 quarterback in the fall, missed some time wrestling this year because of recruiting trips, but was present often enough to win all 30 of his matches.
“I take wrestling seriously,” he said. “Just because I like football doesn’t mean I’m going to slack off on my wrestling stuff.”
Reed has his priorities straight: Once football season was over, all of his energies turned to wrestling.
“It’s wrestling season, and wrestling season has to be the priority,” he said. “I was focused on wrestling all the time.”
How about a spring sport?
“My cousin is trying to get me to throw the javelin,” Reed said. “I tried to do it a little last year, but I’m not sure if I’ll do it this year.”
For all his accomplishments, Reed retains a strong sense of humility.
“I love the humble factor about him,” Church said. “That’s the greatest thing about him. We really try to preach that humble attitude.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete, he’s a phenomenal person and when you’re a great person and you work hard, all that stuff pays off.”
“Matt Reed is the poster child for what any coach would want in the wrestling room.”