Galena’s Matt Reed a state champion |

Galena’s Matt Reed a state champion

Dave Price

Matt Reed isn’t a flashy wrestler. He isn’t loud on the wrestling mat, or off it for that matter.

All the Galena High senior did this season was quietly become the school’s first state wrestling champion.

Reed capped off a banner season in which he won 50 matches by capturing the 140-pound weight class gold medal at the NIAA/U.S. Bank 4A State Tournament in Las Vegas last month, the first wrestler to achieve that feat since Galena opened its doors in 1992.

Reed won 86 matches in two seasons at Galena after transferring from Robert E. Lee High in Springfield, Va., in the spring of 1998. Reed was at his best during the state tournament, starting with a come-from-behind 5-3 triumph in the semifinals against defending state 140-pound state champion Josh Medina of Rancho. Trailing 3-2 late, Reed tied the score with an escape and then won the match on a takedown with five seconds remaining.

“It wasn’t anything fancy, just a single leg to a double,” said Jim Coverley, Galena’s athletic director and head coach of the Grizzlies’ program until he stepped down in 1998. “Matt was not real deep when he started. He just kept at it, pretty soon he had Medina off balance and then he had the takedown. That was just sheer tenacity on Matt’s part.”

It was a major victory, emotionally, if nothing else.

“After that match, people were coming up to me asking who I was, mostly people from the South,” Reed recalled. “Afterward, that’s when I realized I had a good chance to take state.”

Reed won his final by a 3-2 score again one of his Northern 4A rivals, George Smith of Wooster. Interestingly enough, nine of the 14 weight classes at the 4A state tournament were won by Northern wrestlers.

“He was so focused and so serious about what was going on down there,” Coverley recalled. “The first time I saw him smile or start to appreciate the moment was when our plane landed back in Reno.”

Just the week before, Reed had dropped a 4-1 verdict to Carson’s Doug Brooks in the zone finals.

“Before, I think I was trying to take things that weren’t there. I’d shoot when I shouldn’t, things like that,” Reed said. “Before I went down to state, I decided to just relax and have fun.”

The Northern 4A 140-pound weight class was neck-and-neck all season considering Reed, Brooks and Smith all took turns beating each other. One of Reed’s best wins of the season came against Smith in December – giving him an Ironman Award for being undefeated at the high-powered Ponderosa tournament in Shingle Springs, Calif.

“It was tough,” Reed said. “Wrestling those guys all the time helped me get better. That and having all the tough guys on our team helped a lot. Having guys like Damian (Rivadeneyra, 145-pound state qualifier) helped a lot, too. It was always intense in our wrestling room.”

Galena wound up with its first-ever zone team championship and a second-place tie with Rancho at state. Pat Nohr, Seth Puryear, Jesse Jones and Reed were co-captains and part of a senior nucleus that gave the Grizzlies reason for optimism coming into this season.

“It (winning zone) was kind of a goal, but it’s always hard to tell how you’re going to do at the beginning of the year. So many things can happen,” Reed said.

A variety of ailments and factors prevented the Grizzlies from putting a full lineup on the mat early in the season.

“Once we had our full team together, we started to realize we did have a chance to win zone,” Reed said. “Being on a championship team, and being a captain of the team, that was a big highlight for me.”