Austin Reese’s well-worn wrestling shoes won’t be easy to fill.
The Ohio University-bound senior is raising the bar at 160 pounds, etching his name into Mechanicsburg High School lore with a school-record 110 career pins.
“He’s working himself into the elite of our program history,” coach Brady Hiatt said. “He should be able to graduate as our all-time best wrestler.”
Reese’s history-making pin came Wednesday against Shane McGlinch of Versailles and took one minute, eight seconds.
“It’s something you have to work on your whole life,” said Reese, Ohio’s top-ranked 160-pounder. “It takes forever to learn. I’ve been doing this since I was 4 years old. It takes a lot of extra work.”
The third-round state-duals win tied him for third all-time at 162 (with 2007 graduate and two-time state-placer Blaine Klaus) and moved him one step closer to the school-record 170 set by three-time state placer and 2011 graduate Cody Rogers.
“It puts a bigger target on your back,” said Reese, ranked eighth nationally by Flo Wrestling. “Everyone wants to take out the higher (rated) people, but that makes me wrestle even harder. It’s good for me. I need it.”
Reese is the second Mechanicsburg wrestler to earn a Division I scholarship. He had planned to join friend and former teammate Rogers on the Bobcats’ roster next year, but fate rudely intervened.
“The day I went on my official college visit was the day I found out he was done,” Reese said of the 184-pound standout. “I’d been excited to wrestle with him again. He’s one of my best friends and a great teammate. It’s rough.”
Years of wear and tear had produced a pair of ruptured discs in Rogers’ neck, and surgery couldn’t repair the damage sufficiently enough to risk a return to the mat.
“He was really hurt and it was tough seeing him like that,” Reese said. “He’s worked so hard. I know it can happen and I know I’ve got to just wrestle smart and stay healthy.
“It will drive me a little bit and help me to get out there and compete for him.”
Reese plans to redshirt his freshman year and hopes to become an All-American before his college days are through.
“Right now, though, a state championship is my ultimate goal,” he said.
Few are working harder in pursuit of that dream than Reese, a three-time state placer whose 35-1 senior season highlights an extraordinary 162-12 career mark.
“If he continues at his current pace, he should finish with 120 to 125 pins,” Hiatt said. “It’s just been one of those things. As he’s gotten older, he’s become a better wrestler.
“I wasn’t really sure how it would go as he moved from 138 to 160, but he’s handled the jump in weight extremely well. He’s fun to watch right now.”
Twice weekly Reese makes a two-hour, round-trip to Dayton, supplementing his school practice and weightlifting routines with unforgiving workouts at Prodigy Fitness Center.
Each Wednesday, he heads to the top floor of Springfield’s Palmer Manufacturing and a wrestling club called Mafia, honing his competitive edge against friends from Catholic Central.
“You’ve just got to put in the extra time – that’s what it’s really all about,” Reese said. “I’ve worked real hard on my top and bottom positioning and I’ve gotten really good at it. I’ve drilled on it non-stop and now it’s kicking in. I’m able to get pins with it now.”
Reese turned heads as a freshman with a 44-4 record and third-place state finish at 103. He was 37-3 and Ohio’s 120-pound state runner-up as a sophomore before finishing fifth (46-4) at 138 last winter.
“I think the lower weights have better technique and better wrestlers overall, “ Reese said. “Once you start getting bigger it really helps having wrestled the lower weights.
“Everything I’m accomplishing — it means a lot to me. I’ve worked on this my whole life and now it’s finally paying off. It feels good. It’s exciting.”