Laurel High School junior Mike Reynolds completed an impressive journey Saturday--in just three weeks he went from a hospital bed to the top step of the winner's podium at Springbrook's wrestling tournament.
Reynolds won the 130-pound title at the 16-team Y2K Grapple at the Brook wrestling tournament. He was one of two champions from Prince George's County and one of seven county wrestlers to place in the top three. Laurel sophomore Chris Markley won the 112-pound weight class; Laurel's Joe Hill (152) and Eleanor Roosevelt's Chris McRae (103), Matt Bettencourt (145), Tony Aveni (171) and Vince Davis (heavyweight) each placed third.
Sherwood won the two-day tournament with 201.5 points. Eleanor Roosevelt finished ninth with 99 points, followed by Laurel (13th) and Potomac (15th).
"I can wrestle good or I can wrestle great," said Reynolds, who is 16-3 this season with 11 pins. "Last weekend, I wrestled great."
Three weeks ago, Reynolds suffered a concussion at the Patriot Classic wrestling tournament at Northern High School and was taken by helicopter to Prince George's Hospital Center. Doctors performed several tests, including a CAT scan, and determined that he had bruised the back of his brain.
"I hit my head pretty hard, but I didn't think anything of it," said Reynolds, who had injured himself early in the day but continued to wrestle. "It wasn't until my second match that it started to kick in. That's when I started feeling dizzy and weak."
Despite his injury, Reynolds missed only one match. He returned to the mat Jan. 15 and went 1-1 in a tri-meet at Westlake High School. Last weekend, he won his first two matches by pin and defeated a tough opponent in the finals.
"Mike is a very aggressive, physical wrestler," Laurel Coach Al Feldblum said. "He's won a lot of matches this season by pin, but he's also a good technician. . . . He's been wrestling his entire life and his experience really shows."
Reynolds comes from a wrestling family. His father was a two-time state high school champion in Minnesota and his uncle competed at Laurel in the late 1980s. He has a cousin who wrestles at Wilde Lake High School and another who competes in a youth league in Howard County.
"Wrestling may not be a popular sport, but it is in my family," said Reynolds, whose father, Mike Sr., died of a heart attack last season. "Everybody does it and everybody talks about it."
Reynolds went 23-5 at 112 pounds his freshman season and placed first in the county and second in the 4A/3A South Region. Despite losing his father, who also was the head coach at Laurel, Reynolds went 23-4 last season and was the county's top-ranked 130-pounder.
He missed last season's county tournament because of illness, but placed second at an open tournament at River Hill High School two weeks after the 4A/3A tournament and qualified for the National High School Coaches Association wrestling championships in Birmingham. He placed eighth at that event and gained an immeasurable amount of confidence.
"I think I have a real good chance at winning the state title this season," Reynolds said. "It's been a long, tough road the past couple of years, but I think I'm finally where I need to be. I'm wrestling as good as I ever have and I'm a lot more focused."
CAPTION: Laurel's Mike Reynolds held on to defeat Sherwood's Ryan Cummings in finals of Y2K Grapple at the Brook tournament.