Playoff season has arrived for wrestling and Reeltown has begun its late-season push.
The Rebels qualified for the state dual playoffs, coming in second in their region, before competing in the 15-team St. James Invitational Saturday.
It’s bringing confidence to Reeltown coach Josh Taylor about the team’s chances in the state dual playoffs and later individual championships.
“We’ve only had to forfeit one weight class all year, for the most part, and that’s 220 [pounds],” Taylor said. “So we’re really strong as a duals team and we’re getting better as individuals.”
Senior 160 pound wrestler Collin Carleton posted perhaps the biggest set of days of any Reeltown wrestler, taking second in his weight class at the St. James Invitational and recording pins in both his dual meet matches.
His pin of St. James’ Brooks Bacheler was the only victory the Rebels recorded not by forfeit against the Trojans in dual competition.
In regional duals, it was a tight 42-37 win over Montgomery Catholic that gave Reeltown the edge it needed to advance. The way wrestling duals are scored, if the Rebels had lost any of the matches they won, it would have flipped the score in the Knights’ favor.
Carleton, Adam Ward, Omor Ponds and Devin Bragg each recorded pins for the Rebels.
Taylor wasn’t in attendance for the regional duals due to a family emergency.
Elite competition awaited Reeltown at the St. James Invitational, which featured teams from Class 3A all the way up through 7A. The Rebels landed at the bottom of that spectrum at 3A.
Tanner Hill faced the state’s top wrestler at 145 pounds in the consolation bracket semifinals after going 3-1 to that point in the tournament. He lost by fall.
Ponds reached the winner’s bracket semifinals at 154 pounds and met Westminster Christian’s Brendan Steder, the No. 1 wrestler in the state at that weight. He lost by a mere 4-2 margin, but an injury he sustained during the match affected him in the consolation bracket semifinals and he was pinned. He’ll return for Reeltown’s next meet.
“I’m confident he can beat him,” Taylor said. “And now Omor has jumped to No. 4 in the state as far as rankings go. So that’s really good.”
No wrestlers outside Carleton placed but several had standout performances in consolation bracket play beyond the ones listed above.
Brody Ledbetter reached the consolation bracket semifinals at 122 pounds after defeating teammate Justin Thomas in consolation round two.
Ward won multiple matches to make the consolation semis at 108 pounds, as did Bragg at 187 pounds.
“I thought we did really well overall, especially for a smaller school that doesn’t have a long history of wrestling,” Taylor said. “Obviously we’d have liked to finish some of those a little bit better but we did really well overall.”
Carleton rattled off three consecutive pins to reach the championship match at 162 pounds in the tournament before getting pinned with four seconds left in the first period by Stanhope Elmore’s Connor Russo.
He lasted longer on the mat with Russo than any other wrestler the Mustang faced in the bracket.
The Rebels finished 10th in the team standings with 56 points.
Reeltown opens the state dual meet playoffs against Bayshore Christian Academy Friday.