Feb. 21—SHARON — Reynolds High's wrestling program does not take its storied success for granted, especially amidst COVID-19 concerns.
However the Raiders win with such precision it seemed as though they were on a business trip during Saturday's District 10 Championships. While speaking with a mat-side observer veteran Head Coach Casey Taylor casually took a handoff — the D-10 team trophy — from senior standout Gary Steen.
"That's our goal every year, to try to be either champions or in the mix of that. ... But we never take this for granted," Taylor emphasized. "These guys have earned the ones that they have — I know it's been nine in-a-row — but I tell 'em, 'As much as you may overlook it, a team champion, you won't overlook it if you're aren't.'
"I just try and remind them, our goals are always set high."
At Sharon High, Reynolds rolled to the program's 27th District 10 title by amassing 143 points to out-distance a 25-school field, including runner-up Fort LeBoeuf (114) and 3rd-place Hickory (98.5).
"Our goal was to get seven through (to next weekend's Northwest Regionals), and all seven made it through — three champs, three seconds and a third," Taylor reflected. "Another (goal) was to be District 10 champs as a team. That's somethin' that you're not gonna have forever — other teams are comin' on strong; Hickory's a great team, Fort LeBoeuf's a great team and gettin' better.
"But we're gonna keep on tryin' to win, that's the name of the game," Taylor added.
Reynolds' Steen (120), Kaeden Berger (145) and Jalen Wagner (160) garnered gold — Steen for the 4th consecutive season, becoming just the 12th matman in Mercer County annals to accomplish that feat.
Steen was surgical in decisioning Fort LeBoeuf's JoJo Przybycien, 10-2. It was the first time this season an opponent has taken Steen to the 6-minute limit.
"It's just an honor. I want to win everything and be able to win all the time, so I'm just grateful to be one of those people to win four district titles," the soft-spoken Steen said.
"He's got two more than I did," Taylor said with a smile. "It's a tough thing to be a district champion; to be a four-time district champion is another level. I'm very happy with just the way he goes about it. He's got a lot of different techniques, and offensively, defensively he's strong in all areas. Real fun to see him wrestle a high-level competitor like that (Przybycien). Very, very impressed with that."
Steen (21-0) is seeking a 3rd PIAA crown, and can conclude his scholastic career with the highest winning percentage in Reynolds' proud program archives. Already with PIAA crowns in 2018 (106 pounds) and 2020 (113), Steen could surpass 1972 state heavyweight champion Chuck Coryea (61-3-1, 94.6%).
"It's an honor to be ahead of (Coryea); he's very, very high up there in Reynolds wrestling," Steen assessed, admitting, "I never really knew my winning percentage was that high — I just wrestle hard and have fun out there, I don't look at records. But I'm grateful and it's just an honor."
In addition to Reynolds' trio, when Saturday's marathon 168-bout session ended other gold medalists included Saegertown's Hunter Robison (106), Hickory's Justin O'Neill (113), Greenville's Chase McLaughlin (126) and Cole Karpinski (189), Harbor Creek's Connor Pierce (132), Mercer's Carson Filer (138), Fort LeBoeuf's Jack Rimpa (152), Commodore Perry's Gage Musser (172), Corry's Hayden Linkerhof (215), and Girard's Jordan Schell (285).
Karpinski climbed to 22-0 this season for Trojans' taskmaster John Reynolds. Also, Berger and Musser both improved to 20-1; Wagner to 19-2; McLaughlin to 19-1; O'Neill to 23-4 for Hornets' headmaster Nick Clepper, and Filer to 25-2.
But for one day, all others took a backseat to Steen.
"My thought-process is I just go and wrestle one match at a time ... work on everything I need to in the practice room. Just work hard every day, and have fun. A big part of wrestling is havin' fun. If you're havin' fun out there good thing'sll happen," Steen summarized.
"I'm very motivated, very confident in my wrestling," he continued. "So if I'm confident — out there smiling, and just havin' fun — I know good things're gonna happen."
However Steen stressed, "I take everything day-by-day and match-by-match. I don't overlook anyone; I'm not one of those cocky people who overlook someone. I just wrestle hard every match and focus on that match and what's happening right there. Definitely match-by-match and period-by-period."
Reynolds wrestling is comparable with any of the great athletic programs — male or female, regardless of sport — in the history of Mercer County. As a 4-time District 10 titlist Steen etched his name on a short list as he looks toward next weekend's Northwest Regionals, also at Sharon High.
"My legacy? For people — kids growin' up — to look up to me, like 'I want to be like that guy, dominating matches and havin' fun out there," Steen said. " ... I want to win out the rest of my career, my senior season. I want to go undefeated, win another state title, go down as one of the greatest in Reynolds wrestling."
For Reynolds, as Steen said, Saturday was " .. just business as usual."
And for approximately 6 decades, for the Raiders, business has been good
Notes: All results posted on FloArena Wrestling. ... Clepper was chosen by his peers as District 10 coach of the year, and Clepper (1) and Taylor (2) were named their respective section coaches of the year. ... Hickory's Jim Funk was chosen assistant coach of the year. ... Hickory (1), Reynolds (2), Corry (3) and Fort LeBoeuf (4) were the respective regular-season region team champions.
DISTRICT 10 CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIPS
106 — Hunter Robison (Saegertown) dec. Louie Gill (Hickory), 2-1.
113 — Justin O'Neill (Hickory) major dec. Chase Bell (Reynolds), 13-4.
120 — Gary Steen (Reynolds) major dec. JoJo Przybycien (Fort LeBoeuf), 10-2.
126 — Chase McLaughlin (Greenville) dec. Jack Martinec (Cochranton), 9-2.
132 — Connor Pierce (Harbor Creek) pinned Kane Kettering (Reynolds), 0:43.
138 — Carson Filer (Mercer) dec. Easton Hedman (Eisenhower), 5-0.
145 — Kaeden Berger (Reynolds) dec. Carter Gill (Hickory), 2-0.
152 — Jack Rimpa (Fort LeBoeuf) dec. Brock Covell (Titusville), 6-4.
160 — Jalen Wagner (Reynolds) pinned Stetson Boozer (Cochranton), 3:22.
172 — Gage Musser (Commodore Perry) dec. Landon Caldwell (Saegertown), 5-1.
189 — Cole Karpinski (Greenville) major dec. Danny Church (Fort LeBoeuf), 8-0.
215 — Hayden Linkerhof (Corry) dec. Cael Black (Eisenhower), 9-8.
285 — Jordan Schell (Girard) dec. Rocco John-Daniello (Reynolds), 3-2.
106 — Hunter Gould (CASH) dec. Lucas Munsee (Corry), 3-0.
113 — Kyle Lantz (CASH) dec. Jacob Bennett (Fort LeBoeuf), 7-3.
120 — Nick Ayres (Slippery Rock) dec. Timmy Krivosh (Hickory), 12-7.
126 — Connor Saylor (Hickory). dec. Gunnar Gage (Cambridge Springs), 8-1.
132 — Zane Grinnell (Commodore Perry) pinned Cody Miller (Hickory), 2:58.
138 — Hunter Hohman (Grove City) dec. Ashten Armagost (Commodore Perry), 4-2.
145 — Collin Clough (Youngsville) dec. Conner McChesney (Fort LeBoeuf), 3-1.
152 — Collin Hearn (CASH) dec. Seth Evans (Sharon), 5-0.
160 — Colton Smith (Cambridge Springs) injury default over Mason Hesselgesser (Mercer).
172 — Timmy Church (Fort LeBoeuf) dec. Josh Anderson (CASH), 2-1.
189 — Cole Toy (Reynolds) pinned Caden Herman (Harbor Creek), 1:56.
215 — Trevor Tursky (CASH) dec. Isaac DeVault (Lakeview), 3-0.
285 — Xavier Reyda (Corry) major dec. Zach Nesevich (Greenville), 9-1.
106 — Alex Moore (Mercer) pinned Andie Przybycien (Fort LeBoeuf), 0:58.
113 — Brody Beck (Cambridge Springs) pinned Ian Mancuso (Youngsville), 4:14.
120 — Blayke Knauf (Greenville) dec. Cole Kellogg (Eisenhower), 4-1.
126 — Alex Rueberger (Sharpsville) dec. Logan Platz (Seneca), 7-3.
132 — Caullin Summers (Sharpsville) dec. Stephen Martinec (Cochranton), 9-3.
138 — Nate Stearns (Titusville) dec. Willis Morrell (Cochranton), 4-2.
145 — Jaden Reagle (Saegertown) pinned Ryan O'Polka (Lakeview), 3:52.
152 — Clay Thomas (Union City) dec. Michael Berger (Mercer), 6-4.
160 — Ryan Welka (Fort LeBoeuf) injury default over Clayton Smith (Commodore Perry).
172 — Abe Keep (Girard) dec. Dylan Gourley (Corry), 7-2.
189 — Nick Kaday (Union City) dec. Shawn Proctor (Corry), 11-7.
215 — Tony Pilosi (Slippery Rock) pinned Dylan Ahern (Grove City), 1:56.
285 — Jesse Phelps (North East) dec. Mike Mazurek (Sharon), 5-4 (OT).