With one arm, wrestler locks on goal
By JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 26, 2001
LAKELAND -- After four years of punishing workouts, of countless miles run, of endless hours spent in the weight room and on the mat battling friend and foe alike, here's how Tye Reedy's state wrestling championship hopes almost ended:
The Pasco High School star, kneeling face down on the mat, painfully clutching his partially dislocated left shoulder in Saturday night's Class A, 189-pound championship match.
Reedy was scrambling to avoid being taken down by Immokalee High's Ovince Saintpreux when he landed on the shoulder, the same shoulder Reedy dislocated in September playing football, the same shoulder he refused season-ending surgery on.
His coach wondered whether he would have to forfeit the match. His father thought his son had broken his arm. His mother wondered whether her son's college career was over before it began.
The only one who wasn't worried was the 18-year-old on the mat clutching his left arm.
"I told the trainers to just put it back in, and let's go," Reedy said. "They were taking their time, so I put it back in myself."
Wrestling with one good arm, Reedy overcame a 2-1 deficit and went on to win 7-4, earning the gold state championship medal he had long coveted.
"It was just a relief," Reedy said. "I had this feeling of four years of hard work has paid off. You can't really describe being in the finals, much less winning it."
The state wrestling tournament, a three-day event at the Lakeland Center, is among the most dramatic events in Florida high school sports. Saturday night, wrestlers from across the state battled for 42 individual state titles. Dreams are won and lost within seconds.
A year ago, five Pasco County wrestlers brought back gold medals, and one, Reedy, earned the runner-up silver medal. This season, the county sent three wrestlers into the state finals, and just one, Reedy, emerged with the gold. It was Pasco High's first state wrestling title in six years.
"It's not too often you see a kid separate his shoulder in the finals of the state championship and roll it back in, and just go," said his coach, Mark DeAugustino. "That's intestinal fortitude, wouldn't you say?"
But when Reedy first collapsed with 44 seconds left in the first period, those closest to him wondered whether his dream was over.
"I was like, do I forfeit?" DeAugustino said. "Or do I say, 'Tye, let's go. You've wrestled and beat many tough opponents with one arm already.' "
Reedy's father, Pat, Pasco High's principal, stood nearby videotaping his son's match, as he has every match for the past four years. He feared the worst: "I thought he broke his arm."
Reedy's mother, Diane, sitting in the stands with about 50 family members, friends, teammates, teachers and well-wishers, knew it was her son's troublesome shoulder. She also wondered what the college coaches from Duke and North Carolina State there scouting her son were thinking.
"I thought, 'Oh my God, is this it?' " she said. "Is he going to be able to go to college and wrestle?"
Reedy said that some encouraging words from assistant coach Frank Brewer erased any doubts he had.
"As soon as it crossed my mind (that the match was over), I looked at coach Brewer, and he yells, 'You're all right,' " Reedy said. "Then I knew. It didn't hurt again until after the match."
Reedy won the match despite being unable to lift or "ride" him -- keep his foe's stomach planted onto the mat, then try to turn him over and pin him -- leaving Reedy without half of his arsenal of moves. But Reedy said he knew that's when the mental aspect of the sport became most important.
Reedy played defense, kept his opponent from grappling onto his bad shoulder and scored enough takedowns and escapes of his own to win the title.
"I wasn't worried about it; I've wrestled with one arm before," Reedy said. "I'm a smart wrestler and I know how to control the match. You need two arms to wrestle, but I did what I could and I did what I had to do."
Reedy's prowess on the mat and in the classroom has made him one of the most hotly recruited high school athletes in Pasco County. Duke University, North Carolina State, the University of Virginia, Old Dominion University, Campbell University and West Point all want him to come wrestle for them.
"I have no clue where I'm going," said the Pasco High honor student. Reedy plans to start visiting campuses soon.
"He's every coach's dream," DeAugustino said.
Reedy will leave high school with a 126-24 career record, a 39-2 record this season and three state medals for fifth, second and first place. He also will graduate with this dubious distinction: He may be the first state champion to injure himself after winning.
After the referee declared Reedy the winner, the senior joyously threw both arms into the air.
"The adrenaline was going through me, I just threw my hands in the air, and (the shoulder) came out again, and I just put it back in again," Reedy said. "I was kind of laughing about it, but the trainers were all concerned.
"I guess I don't know my own strength."
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