Paonia’s Reed wins third title
Junior will have a chance to join four-time club next season
DENVER — Jesse Reed jumped to his feet and thrust both hands into the air, three fingers on both hands extended.
With his 6-4 win in the Class 2A 126-pound state championship match, Reed took another step toward Colorado wrestling immortality with his third straight championship on Saturday night.
It’s been as easy as 1-2-3.
But number three was anything but easy.
Austin Coy of Swink came in at 32-0 and was a state runner-up in 2013. This match was a battle of reversals, with Reed taking a 4-0 lead in the second before giving up a reversal. Reed upped the lead to 6-2 before Coy scored another reversal with 23 seconds remaining, but Reed (40-0) held on and the celebration ensued.
After waving to his Paonia supporters at the Pepsi Center, he found the waiting arms of his dad, Bobby.
With tears streaming down his face, the wrestling dad’s emotions were on full blast.
“Yeah, it’s emotional, I’m not sure why it’s that way this year,” Bobby Reed said.
Dad said it’s a lot tougher watching.
“It’s a lot easier when you’re doing it,” he said. “It’s a lot easier.”
Jesse Reed also was a little emotional talking about his dad and the special bond they have.
“He said ‘Congratulations son, that’s a hard thing you just did.’ And it was hard,” Jesse said. “I just said, ‘Thanks, Dad.’ He works with me so much. It’s a dream come true for him and for me.
“I couldn’t ask for a better dad.”
Dad is a bit of a wrestling legend himself, winning two straight titles for Paonia in 1978 and 1979.
“What’s neat about this one is no one from Delta County has ever won state three years in a row,” said Bobby Reed, who is an assistant coach with Paonia and has coached two-time state champions in the past.
Coy’s disappointment was evident. He said he would have liked to have derailed Reed’s quest for history, but it didn’t work out.
“I’ve gotten second the last two years. I really thought this might be my year,” he said.
As a junior, Coy said he would like another shot at knocking Jesse Reed off his track to four straight.
Both Reeds are keenly aware of the history and legendary status that comes with winning four straight.
No wrestler wins four straight without taking the title as a freshman. Paonia’s Bo Pipher learned that last year when he narrowly lost the title match. He won his first title on Saturday at 132.
Now with three straight, Reed grinned and admitted that thoughts of number four were already dancing in his head.
“Right when I finished it?”
“Yeah, it was definitely on my mind. It’s something big, but it’s just an amazing feeling to win three.”
Later on Saturday, Broomfield’s Phil Downing became the 17th wrestler in Colorado history to win four straight.
In Paonia, the rugged tradition of wrestling success is as distinct as the chiseled Elk Mountains to the east.
History is their goal, whether it’s as a team or as individuals. For Jesse Reed, number three was tough and now comes the quest to be No. 18.
“It’s going to be amazing if I can get to that point, but there’s a lot of hard work I have to put in before then,” Reed said with his trademark humbleness. “I can’t really think about it too much, it might be in the back of my head, but I just have to think about the hard work first.”
Only three Western Slope wrestlers have ever won four straight, with Nucla’s Mikeal Smith doing it last in 2005.
Like any great wrestler, it begins with a work ethic as solid as granite. There were no shortcuts for Reed on his way to becoming the 96th three-time state wrestling champion in Colorado history.
Reed now has three, but nothing has come easy. Then again, making history shouldn’t be easy.