In just his second year of wrestling, Keller’s Bobby Reynolds can almost see the writing on the wall.
In the Indians’ workout room, the names of all state tournament qualifiers are painted on the large back wall, and Reynolds’ wants more than his inclusion from last season.
Reynolds wants to see his name in gold.
The only other two names painted in gold on that wall are the two state champion heavyweights, Matt Lupardus and Chad Bahr.
Now, after picking up this year’s district championship, Reynolds will head to the Region I tournament in El Paso and look to earn his way back to the state tournament.
And there’s good reason to check on the supply of gold paint.
Reynolds finished the district tournament as the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestler and boosted his season record to 28-2. His two losses are at the hands of an Alabama state champion.
To add to his hallmark day, Reynolds also signed his commitment to play football for the University of Louisiana-Monroe earlier in the day prior to stepping on the mat.
Currently ranked as the top heavyweight in 6A, Reynolds go started in the sport last year after having considered it for several years. But it was at the urging of head football coach at Keller, Carl Stralow, that Reynolds decided to go ahead and make the commitment.
“I won some matches and really got into it,” Reynolds said.
Wrestling, Reynolds said, not only was becoming a sport he enjoyed for its physicality and finesse, but he said it spilled over to his football qualities on the offensive and defensive line.
“I came off the line with leverage because it helped the way I use my hips,” he said of the added qualities to his game.
“It’s one of the only sports you can compete and win on your own, as well as a team,” Reynolds said.
Keller had finished second place as a team at the district meet behind Carroll.
Now, however, the focus is back to qualifying at the regional meet this weekend in hopes of returning to the state meet at Garland’s Culwell Center on Feb. 20-21.
Reynolds said he’s familiar with a few key competitors who will be at the regional and finished behind him at last year, where he finished as the Region I runner-up.
There’s no added pressure to earn the state championship this year, Reynolds said, due to the fact Keller’s only other state titlists had also been 285-pounders.
Reynolds said Keller head wrestling coach Jim Schee has told him his presence on the mat reminds him of Bahr.
Part of that presence is Reynolds’ ability to work well on his feet.
“I like to take them from feet-to-back with a bear hug,” Reynolds said.
And it’s not often that Reynolds meets up with other heavyweights of equal size, but even when he does, Reynolds has not had many problems in pinning his opponents.
Wrestling at about 264, Reynolds is about 10 pounds lighter than his football weight, which allows him to be a bit quicker.
Reynolds said another thing that’s built up over last year is his confidence.
The additional year of experience on the mat has given Reynolds what may make the difference and allow him to put his name in gold on the wrestling room wall.
“I go into matches with a lot more confidence. I can go out there and wrestle better without freaking out. It helps out a lot,” Reynolds said of his confidence on the mat.
After the wrestling season, Reynolds will hang up his wrestling shoes and singlet and don his pads to play football again.
“Wrestling is a great second sport and if ULM had a team, I’m sure I’d be wrestling, too,” Reynolds said. “The coaches there know I’m a wrestler. I’ll miss it.”