It was a moment that wrestlers around the state dream of and work for diligently.
Jasper’s Preston Reed stood atop the placement podium in February and received his championship medal and bracket from AHSAA director Steve Savarese — the official recognition Reed had won the state championship following a 2-1 decision win in the 152-pound class.
Nine months have passed since Reed became the first Viking wrestler in over a decade to win championship gold, ample time to reflect on the accomplishment and how it has shaped his life.
“It was a big moment — probably one of the best in my life. I really have to thank all of the staff here at Jasper, coaches Tripp Otis, Hezzie Morgan and our assistants, for preparing for that moment,” Reed said. “They’ve helped me grow as a person in order to win that match.”
With the championship win, Reed has been looked and called upon in a leadership role — a duty he previously had some discomfort in, but has gradually embraced.
“I used to have a problem with being vocal because I used to feel it was not my place to do so,” Reed said. “Since I won the championship I feel the need to be vocal and that I have something to say that can positively affect the members of our team. With the Covid protocols we now have in place, our team has to run by the book — we have to make sure we adhere to what we’re supposed to be doing to keep ourselves and each other safe, reach the end of the season and hopefully bring multiple state championships to our program.”
In February, Jasper sent 12 qualifiers to the state tournament, with five team members earning placement and the program finishing in fifth place among all classifications.
With eight of last season’s qualifiers ready for mat action next week at the Hayden Thanksgiving Duals meet, Reed hopes the Vikings will continue their path of improvement forged last year, with more state titles won for the program.
Seeing how hard work and dedication paid off with championship gold last season, Reed’s desire to once again stand on the podium and receive a medal has grown stronger.
“I want to be able to three-peat, win this year and next year. God willing, that’s my plan,” Reed said.