When the referee raised Reed Dreyer’s arm, declaring the Humboldt High School junior the North Central Conference champion at 195 pounds last Saturday, Dreyer became the school’s 97th conference title-holder.
He also kept alive Humboldt’s streak of crowning a conference champion at 26 consecutive years.
Pretty lofty stuff.
But in the big picture of life, Dreyer is just plain happy to have a chance to wrestle as he looks back on an accident in the spring of 2011, where he was struck in the head by a discus during a weekend practice.
The life-threatening injury ended his promising football career and forced him to sit out much of the 2011-2012 wrestling season, but he still advanced to districts.
This year Dreyer is currently 33-1 and ranked No. 2 in the Class 2A state rankings. But he keeps things in perspective.
“The accident makes you think twice about your head. Going through that has made me realize some things aren’t as important as they were before and other things are. I’m alive and I’m lucky,” Reed said.
“I feel real good. I’ve put a lot of work into this and it’s paid off,” Reed said.
“Last year I missed the first part of the season, so that was kind of tough. I didn’t get to wrestle until later, at sectionals and districts,” Reed said. “This year I got clearance to wrestle right away. It’s great and I feel a lot better. I’m in better shape.”
“Reed has become very dominant this year,” Humboldt coach Chad Beaman said. “He’s only had one stumbling block, against a very talented kid from Emmetsburg recently.”
“I’m very proud of how he’s been able to deal with everything. I look at how he dealt with the loss last week (Jan. 12 at Lake Mills). Some kids would go off and pout and all of a sudden their whole attitude changes. Reed just kind of stays the course. He stays calm, cool and collected,” Beaman said.
“You couldn’t tell on Monday he had lost a match. He was back to business. I think he feels fortunate he was able to wrestle. He’s been wanting to do this for a long time. I’m proud he’s got this opportunity and he’s having a tremendous year,” Beaman said.
“I feel stronger this year and I gained from having Nikko (Wheeler) as my practice partner. He’s helped me out a lot,” Reed said.
Dreyer has had to get used to wearing a protective head gear.
“I’ve gotten used to wearing the mask. When I first started wearing one, I hated it. As I went on, I got used to it and I don’t feel much different. Sometimes it slips on my head and causes a little trouble. But otherwise I’m used to it,” Reed said.
“He has come out this year with a good attitude. I think not playing football last fall made him more focused and hungry to wrestle,” Reed’s father, Jeff Dreyer, said.
“He went to Florida last summer with the Ogden wrestling team and had fun down there. He’s not an outgoing kid so I wasn’t sure if he would have fun or not, but he had a blast. Then he went to a tournament at Grand View last summer and beat a kid from Ames, 12-2, who had went to state last year. He manhandled the kid. He’s doing awesome and I’m proud of him,” Jeff said.
Since Reed returned to the wrestling mat last year, Jeff says that some of the initial fear has subsided.
“Reed would probably agree with that, but not his mother. The doctor really didn’t want to clear him for wrestling at first. He calls him a high-risk for something to happen. I told the doctor he wears a mask that goes all the way around his head to absorb the bumps,” Jeff said. “Reed held himself out of football, which is probably smart, because you are going 15 mile an hour and colliding. Where in wrestling, you aren’t getting hit as hard like you would in football.”
“We finally got clearance from the doctor to allow him to wrestle. But if he has any issues from here on out, then he will have to give it up. If he wears his mask, I think he’s going to be all right,” Jeff said.
“Standing around and watching during football has made me more aggressive and get after it in wrestling,” Reed said. “I don’t like watching football from the stands. But it’s worth it if I can wrestle.”
“Our team works hard and we bond well. That helps. Coach Petsinger (Matt) has helped out a lot, too,” Reed said.
“Not losing puts pressure on you, so I guess that loss last week probably helped me focus on the things I need to work on. It will make me better for sectionals, districts and state, hopefully,” Reed said.
Reed’s mother, Renae, says she’s fearful every time Reed steps onto the mat. But she also admits it would be tough to withhold her son from competing in a sport he loves.
“It’s scary. I don’t even want him to wrestle, but it’s something he wants to do,” Renae said. “As a parent, I want to keep him in a bubble and protect him, but I can’t. This is his mission. I told him if he’s going to wrestle, ‘get it done in the first period or you’re not going to wrestle.’ And he’s kind of adhered to that pretty well.”
“It’s just tough watching him wrestle, but he’s wrestling different this year. We want to keep his head safe and stay strong win or lose. He loves wrestling and so we hate to take that away from him,” Renae said. “We’re cautious and optimistic. I just want to get the season over with.”
“We take it one match and one week at a time. The whole team is doing phenomenal. It’s a group effort and it’s been a fun, fun season for Reed to be a part of,” Renae said.
Renae talks about the injury and how life can change in an instant.
“You think you are going to watch your kid wrestle and play sports forever. Then it quickly changes and you don’t know what you are going to have,” Renae said. “For him to be able to wrestle is short of a miracle, really. Sometimes I wonder if he shouldn’t be doing it, but this is what he wants to do.”
“It’s amazing what he’s done and he’s had no ill effecs from it at all except for a lumpy forehead,” Renae said.
“That discus accident – gosh, a couple of inches lower and it would have taken out his eyes and been a devastating injury. Much worse than it was,” Jeff said. “He hasn’t had any after effects to speak of as far as headaches, so we’re very thankful for that.”
“Reed gave up football and if he wasn’t able to wrestle, that would be really hard on him. He would really struggle. We’re thankful he can compete in a sport he really loves,” Jeff said.
“I just take it one match at a time and keep working hard. I’m glad I can be out there. Right now there’s a lot more I want to accomplish and I’m glad I have the chance,” Reed said.