DENVER – The waiting must have seemed to last forever for Paonia senior Jesse Reed.
One match away from making history, Reed paced back and forth alongside the mat Saturday night where he would compete for the final time. Three matches had to be wrapped up, and then awards were handed out before the Class 2A 126-pound championship match got underway at Pepsi Center.
“It was my last time out here,” Reed said. “I’ve been here and I’ve done it, so I just tried to stay calm.”
Ultimately the moment proved worth the wait. Reed scored a first-period takedown and an escape in each of the ensuing two periods on his way to a 4-1 decision over Rocky Ford’s Jeremy Fraser, giving him a fourth consecutive 2A state title.
Reed became the 18th individual from Colorado to accomplish the feat and the first from Paonia.
“It’s only been done 18 times,” Eagles coach Andy Pipher said. “Now one of them is in town. There’s a lot of good wrestling there and a lot of good support.”
Reed endured nearly 24 hours between his semifinal victory over Wray’s Jake Rockwell and his match Saturday with Fraser.
“It was a little bit difficult,” he said. “I finally got to sleep around 11:30 and woke about 5 (a.m.) because I was so anxious to get it over with.”
Fraser, the second seed in the bracket, gave Reed a tough match but could never quite figure out a way to score a much-needed takedown. It was Reed who got on the board first with a takedown of his own a minute into the match, but a Fraser escape cut the deficit to one going into the second period.
Reed escaped Fraser’s grasp midway through each of the next two periods, and Fraser’s late shoot attempts went for naught.
“A lot of Jesse’s matches are that way,” Pipher said. “But boy, I’d put him out on the mat 1-0 against anybody. He’s going to win.”
Reed concluded his amazing run with a career record of 147-7, including an 86-0 mark over the past two seasons. As a freshman he pinned Burlington’s Miguel Torres in 3 minutes, 38 seconds to win the 113-pound title. The next year he edged Baca County’s Stetson Loader 7-5 at 120 pounds.
As a junior he capped an undefeated season with a 6-4 decision over Swink’s Austin Coy at 126 pounds. Then came Saturday night.
Pipher said it was important not to think ahead because there could be no celebration without one more victory.
“It’s nice to know hard work pays off,” said Reed, who credited everyone who helped him achieve his success. “It’s an amazing feeling. It’s unbelievable. I can’t describe it right now.”
Earlier in the evening, after the Parade of Champions that precedes the championship matches, a video package was aired on the scoreboard at Pepsi Center. Each of the previous 17 four-time state champions were shown to the hundreds of fans in attendance, giving Reed a little something extra to think about.
There is so much appreciation on his part for what those individuals accomplished, and he said it was a great feeling to know he’s up there now with them.
“Before my match, all I could think about is ‘I’m one match away, I’m one match away from being up there with all the elites,” Reed said. “It’s an honor, it truly is.”
The fourth individual title came on the heels of Paonia’s 2014 Class 1A state football crown. Reed finished the season with three touchdowns and also had 47 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble from his cornerback position.
He was also a member of Paonia’s three consecutive 2A team state wrestling championships.