Reeltown wrestling team

Submitted / The Outlook The 2021-22 Reeltown wrestling team is establishing a base for the program moving forward.

Reeltown’s wrestling program has been in existence all of four years.

Naturally it’s taken some time for the Rebels to be competitive in a sport that is as technical as it is individual.

“Freshman year, it was terrible. I did terrible. It was so fun though,” senior 145-pounder Logan Hornsby said. “I had a negative record. I probably won two matches. But it was awesome, I loved it.”

This season, though, Reeltown finally has a lineup with some honest experience.

Five seniors lead the charge, many of whom have been with the team since it’s very beginning. And while it’s doubtful the Rebels have the depth to challenge for a state title in 2021-22 — having to compete with Class 1A through 4A at the state tournament adds to that difficulty — they’re laying the groundwork for what’s become one of the fastest-rising athletics teams at the Notasulga-based high school.

“Huge. I want it to be huge,” Hornsby said. “I want it to stay the same number [of players], but I want fans to show up, I want people to show up and actually care about what’s going on. Like how people show up to the basketball games, baseball games, softball games, football games.”

Reeltown’s first wrestling team may well have been held together by two strings and a paperclip.

Hornsby and other current players said they signed up out of sheer curiousity.

They didn’t have enough wrestlers to fill out all the weight classes. As a result, team victories were rarer than cleats on a wrestling mat.

This season, participation has never been higher.

“I wish I had another year, because right now, the state that it’s in is just miles beyond from where we started in the first, first year,” senior 182-pounder Cameron Price said. “Now we have a good coaching system, good teammates. It’s just taken off from year one.”

All five seniors should provide consistent points in meets. Alongside Hornsby and Price, there’s 160-pounder Collin Carleton, 145-pounder Tanner Hill and 138-pounder Zachary Salter.

“I feel like we’re actually on track and doing the things we need to do, so I’m excited about the program,” Reeltown coach Josh Taylor said. “I’m excited about the direction we’re heading.”

Their leadership is paramount for Taylor this season. It’s not only his first year at the helm of Reeltown’s program, it’s his first year coaching wrestling in general.

Having the quintet up top has been instrumental for bringing younger faces along, key athletes that fill out the lower weight classes like Adam Ward, Vann Thomas or Drew Weldon.

“The senior class as a whole is just great,” Taylor said. “They’re helpful, they’ll tell you what we need to work on, they’re teachers. You couldn’t ask for anything more. They’ve had good coaching in the past, they know what they’re doing, so to rely on them has been a God-send.”

Taylor’s focus has been on building out the structure of the program, filling out a coaching staff and improving Reeltown’s approach to the weight room and conditioning.

There’s still more talent outside them.

Junior Omorion Ponds won the football team’s “Iron Man” competition this past summer, but Taylor said wrestling is likely his better sport.

Eighth-grader Devin Bragg will also play a big role. Brothers Brody and Bowman Brumbeloe will battle with Caden Dillard for mat time at heavyweight.

“It’s just like a brotherhood,” Hill said. “Once you meet all those people, fight back-to-back, minute-to-minute, every day at practice, blood, sweat and tears, and then you’re down to your last year like us, it really hits you deeply.”

But truly, it all falls back on the seniors and the bonds they’ve built over four seasons together.

“Since the first year it was made, I’ve been with them,” Hornsby said. “We’ve gone through things together. It’s really the bus rides. Bus rides are so weird, they’re the best thing. The bus rides, just being up there, cracking jokes with each other, and then when a match starts you’re yelling at them to do things. It’s just an awesome environment.”

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