Albia will not have a three-time state wrestling champion. At least not this year.
The nation’s #1 ranked 126-pound wrestler, senior Aden Reeves, announced over the weekend that he would end his high school career to have surgery on a torn ACL in his right knee. The surgery will be done in Ames under the watchful eye of the Iowa State University wrestling doctor, probably Thursday at Mary Greeley Hospital, when his three senior teammates are honored at the team’s only home meet this year.
“The past four years have been an absolute blessing,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “A few weeks ago during a home dual I suffered a serious knee injury that has brought me to make the difficult decision to end my season and have surgery. I am so thankful for all the support I have received during my career at Albia and cannot begin to explain how grateful I am for everything this team and community has done for me. Even though I am saddened that my high school career had to end this way, I am excited to see what the future brings and I know that God has a plan.”
For anyone at that meet just before Christmas, it was obvious that Reeves had injured the knee. He rested through the Christmas break and along with Coach Dave Wenger, thought he might be able to wrestle duals only until sectionals and give the state tournament a shot.
“There would have been a lot of unknowns wrestling at 126,” said Coach Wenger. “We knew he couldn’t cut to 120 with the injury, but we were holding out hope.”
Then Reeves tweaked the knee in practice and again at what would be his last dual match in high school at Oskaloosa. Talking with his Iowa State coach and their medical staff, he and his parents made the decision to have the surgery now as opposed to the end of Feburary.
“I just didn’t want to risk doing more damage to the knee,” he said. “As is life. On to the next chapter.”
How is one of his greatest wrestlers taking the injury and the thought that he won’t be a three-time state champion? “A lot better than the adults,” said Coach Wenger. “I think he has embraced the bigger picture. I’m glad I’m a man of faith. It would be a lot worse.”
Coach Wenger has gone over that late scheduled meet just before Christmas again and again. “We worked to get another home meet, mainly because people were begging to see Aden and the rest of the guys wrestle at home,” said Coach Wenger. “You can’t believe how close we were to canceling the meet that week.”
But for Reeves there is no looking back, no blame, no regrets. “I had done that move a thousand times,” he said. “I planted my foot and the knee popped.”
The team learned of their teammate’s decision and Wenger said they are spending time talking about the things you can control and those you can’t. “You really can’t control injuries,” said Coach Wenger. “What you can control is how hard you work and how dedicated you are to your sport.”
Reeves ends his senior campaign with a perfect 24-0 record. He finishes his high school career at 166-3, a two-time state champion and a three-time medal winner.
He is tied for fifth in all-time victories at ACHS following Shadow Leshen (208), Brett Leshen (197), Carter Isley (188), Blake Lawless (171), tied with Griffin Osing (166) and Bryce Leshen (161).
He is looking at a six-month recovery, which puts his goal to win a freestyle championship next July at Fargo, N.D. in the “unlikely” category. “We’ll see,” he said. “The Iowa State coaches want me to get bigger to wrestle at 125 next year, so I’ll be doing a lot of weight lifting as soon as I can. He will also be doing the rehab on his leg at the Physical Therapy/Cardiac Rehab facility where his mother, Kristin, works at Monroe County Hospital and Clinics.
He was in the wrestling room Monday afternoon, pushing his teammates from the sidelines. How long has it been since he’s not wrestled for six months? “After my sophomore year, they locked the MAC for a month,” he said. “Just about drove me nuts.”
“This has been a tough year for the program,” said Coach Wenger, whose team has still lost just one dual meet on the season. “We will have lost four guys who would very likely have medaled at state. On the other hand, we’ve had guys like Tate Padilla, Carter Anderson, Jer McAninch, Jaquan Stallworth, Barrett Bonnett and Dawson Bonnett have outstanding years, so you just have to count your blessings.”
Padilla out for the season
About that statement by Coach Wenger about not being able to control things like injuries. Tate Padilla, who owns a 26-5 record as a senior and was one who Coach Wenger thought had a shot at the state tournament, broke his ankle Monday night in practice, ending his season. That makes five potential state tournament athletes lost by the program this season.
“We’re going to sit down again and reorder our goals,” said Coach Wenger, spending time Monday night with elementary wrestlers during Albia Mat Club practice. “For the first time in a long time our focus will be on individual accomplishment and there is still much to accomplish.”