COLUMBUS - Tony Reynolds hated wrestling.
He went out for the sport for the first time his freshman year, winning seven matches. Three years later, Fostoria's Reynolds is the Division III 170-pound state runner-up.
Reynolds was edged out in his state championship match to Travis Linton of Rootstown, 3-2.
Linton opened the match with a first round takedown, forcing Reynolds to play catch-up.
"First takedown is key in almost any match," Fostoria coach Nick Davis said. "It's a doable deficit obviously, but on this stage, that's tough. First takedown is a tough one to give up."
A penalty point assessed to Reynolds in the second round didn't help matters, and Reynolds and his coaches had a decision to make to start the third trailing 3-0. Davis had Reynolds chose to go down, hoping to get a quick escape. For nearly the entire round, Reynolds couldn't break free, until he scored a two-point reversal with 22 seconds left.
Reynolds tried to turn Linton to score back points and win the match, but was unable to in the short time remaining.
After the match, Davis said which position to choose was a big debate.
"There in the third period, I was really debating between neutral or down," he said. "Personally as a coach, I'm kind of a slave to the down position. I preach that it's a free point every time and I believe that my guys can get out every time when I take down. Does it happen every time? No. He ended up getting the two very late. I was hoping maybe to catch some back points and maybe a stalling there at the end. He was kind of lying on the mat there the last 15 seconds. My opinion a stalling call there but I'm a touch biased."
Reynolds also said in hindsight, maybe he should've made a different decision.
"I tried to turn him the last couple seconds, but he wasn't doing much so I don't know," he said. "I kinda wish I would've chosen top going into the third. I feel like I was in a lot better shape than he was. He seemed pretty tired at the end there. I feel that if I would've chosen top then maybe I would've been able to turn him a lot easier."
Saturday's final completed a long journey for Reynolds that spanned from a seven-win first season, to a sixth place state finish as a junior, to being state runner-up as a senior.
"Freshman year, I really didn't even like wrestling. I just went out because my mom recommended it to me. She said that maybe I should try it since I'm not playing any other winter sport," he said. "I went out for it and I didn't like it at all freshman year. I hated it. But I went out again because I don't like basketball, and I'm not much of a bowler, and swimming is more of a recreational thing.
"I got better sophomore year, made it to districts. Then I figured 'hey, I made it to districts, try again and see if I can make it farther.' I started to like it my junior year. I still really didn't care that much, still wasn't very enthused, but then senior year after I placed at state the year before, it gave me the push to want do better because it was a great experience here my junior year."
Now, after not caring for the sport, Reynolds sees himself as a figure others in Fostoria can look up to, to see what's possible.
"I feel that a lot of kids, say they don't want to come out for wrestling because theyfd be in their first year as a freshman," he said. "I feel like I could be a role model to some of those kids and be like hey, you may not do so hot your freshman year but stick it out, you never know what could happen."