After Springstead’s Reynolds wraps up prep career; signs with D-III University of Mount Union Raiders

NEXT RAIDER – Recent F.W. Springstead graduate, Christian Reynolds, a two-time state wrestling qualifier and a 2019 state medalist (fourth), recently signed a national letter of intent to compete with D-III University of Mount Union Raiders in Alliance, Ohio. Reynolds is flanked by SHS assistant coach Joe Gallo and his mother Kasandra Adams.

WRESTLING

In three varsity seasons

on the mat, Reynolds

reaches states twice

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

Few, if any, prep athletes have enjoyed the meteoric rise in such a short span as Christian Joseph Reynolds.

Christian Reynolds

Reynolds, who walked into the famed F.W. Springstead wrestling room as a freshman – quit the team for two weeks before returning.

Lacking confidence – as most young men do at 14 – the then 5-foot-10, 152-pounder couldn’t take the daily pounding of veteran Eagles in the room.

Despite the constant punishment being doled out by Chase Landgraff, Travis Williams and James Spencer at the time, Reynolds stuck out the pain and competed as a freshman at the jayvee level.

Bob Levija

During a so-so sophomore year under SHS Hall-of-Famer Robert “Bob” Levija, Reynolds finally got “in the barrel” and finished just over .500 at 21-17 with 10 pin falls.

As he recalled later, “Everything Coach (Mike) LaRocca taught me as a freshman, I put to use as a sophomore on varsity. The older I got, the more my body filled out that’s when I started beating people.”

In Year 1 at the varsity level, Reynolds finished third in the Class 2A, District 5 Tourney at Inverness before advancing to Brandon’s “Region of Doom” where he was shown the door after a 1-2 stay.

During the off-season, Reynolds literally drank the Eagles’ Kool Aid and remained busy competing in many of the arduous summer tournaments.

As a junior, the brown-tressed and green-eyed Reynolds made a remarkable leap to respectability.

Reynolds improved to 33-17 with 17 pins. His seasonal highlight reel featured the 2A-5 title at Belleview.

The following week, during the Class 2A, Region II or “Region of Doom” in Brandon, he fashioned a fourth-place effort to advance to the FHSAA State Finals at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.

A week later, he finished 1-2 at states.

Yet he – in his mind – was just getting started.

Christian Reynolds                                                                                                                                                Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

As a senior in 2018-19, Reynolds posted 34 wins across 40 matches (.850), collecting a personal record 20 pins.

In Year 3, he competed in six IBTs (individually bracketed tournaments) and placed in all six.

During his best-ever season, he walked away with four gold medals.

Reynolds began the campaign by capturing the 37th Brooksville Kiwanis Invitational at 4-0 at 220 pounds.

After going 6-0 at Boca Ciega Duals and 3-2 at South Beach Duals, he returned to the top of the podium during the Corey Hill Invite in Spring Hill.

He followed up his last home win by garnering gold at the Milton-Winter Invite at St. Cloud.

At Citrus High at Inverness, he repeated as district champion – his fourth gold medal of the season.

At Brandon, he placed third behind a 4-1 effort to advance to the Class 2A FHSAA State Finals for a second time.

In the 55th State Championship, Reynolds finished 4-2 to place fourth.

He finished 88-39 lifetime (69 percent), highlighted by 47 pins.

University of Mount Union Raiders

He recently signed a national letter of intent to wrestle D-III with the University of Mount Union Raiders in Alliance, Ohio.

The Raiders are nationally ranked in football and wrestling.

To stay in shape, Reynolds, who is tipping the Toledos these days at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, will be competing for Danny Walker’s club team from Polk County in next weekend’s Disney Duals at heavyweight.

Christian Reynolds vs. Citrus High’s McKinley Franklin.                     Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Tracing his athletic roots, Christian was born in Spring Hill as the middle of four children to Central High graduate Kasandra Adams.

His mother didn’t play any sports for the Bears but his uncles both played football and wrestled.

Christian’ s father, who he doesn’t know well, was a basketball player in high school.

The Reynolds family has basically resided locally except for a couple years in Georgia.

When he was 10, Reynolds described himself as a “Pugsley Addams.”

The Addams Family (ABC)
[1964-1966]
Shown: Ken Weatherwax
Pugsley Addams

“I was 5-foot-nothing and weighed 200 pounds. I couldn‘t move. I never played any sports when I was young,” explained Reynolds.

But at 11, he got his feet wet playing Police Athletic League football in Georgia along the offensive and defensive lines.

He initially attended Powell Middle School as a sixth-grader until his family briefly relocated to the Peach State.

He played football for Glenn Middle School as a seventh- and eighth-grader until moving back to Hernando County.

As a freshman, he competed as freshman for the Eagles as a jayvee wrestler before earning a trio of varsity letters as a sophomore, junior and senior.

Outside of the mats, he served as a member of DECA (Distributive Education Clubs) for three years along the Mariner Boulevard campus.

As a senior, he was a member of the Student Athletic Council.

In the classroom, Reynolds missed by a an eye lash of graduating with honors (a 3.0 GPA is required). He finished with a 2.9 unweighted and 2.94 weighted grade average.

His favorite courses included Marine Biology with Mrs. Wagner and Math College preparation with Mr. Doyle.

Springstead High’s Christian Reynolds looks for a pin against Armwood High’s John Lombardo. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Reynolds was asked why he prefers life on the mats, “After I stopped playing football, I didn’t have anything to do,” recalled Reynolds. “I was recruited by Coach LaRocca. Slowly I bought into what he was selling. After a while, I thought I could do this and it took off from there.”

Reynolds vividly recalls the pain he suffered as a freshman.

“I remember, I didn’t know what I was doing. Guys like Brandon Burgess, Chase (Landgraff) and Travis (Williams) were destroying me in practice every day. They beat me up pretty good.

“… At that point, I was jayvee and I didn’t feel like I was going anywhere. That’s when I quit for two weeks. Coach LaRocca called my mom. He said – from the beginning – he saw something in me that I didn’t see. That I had to stick it out through the tough times.

“The next year, I was wrestling anywhere between 180-220 pounds, but that’s when the light went off for me,” explained Reynolds.

“That feeling you have when you get your hand raised and that you’re better than the next guy stayed with me,” shared Reynolds. “There’s something about going one-on-one against somebody and winning that you can’t take away. I finally felt like I was doing my job.

On the mental side, Reynolds dealt with not finishing his shots.

“I had a mental block for so long. I’d get in tight on the legs for a double leg, but not finish it,” said Reynolds. “I felt like I couldn’t take anybody down. But since then, I’ve taken hundreds and hundreds of shots. Now I take guys down 5-6-7 times a match. When I was starting off, I couldn’t take anybody down.“

Springstead High’s Christian Reynolds versus Cayman Wiseman from Sunlake. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Mirror, mirror

On his biggest improvements, “It has to be on my fitness. I’ve gained over 70 pounds and I filled out my frame. I use to way 152 pounds. Now, when I go out on the mats, I do so with confidence.

“I don’t back down any more from anybody or anything. I use to be that shy kid that stayed away from any kind of trouble. I don’t back down now.”

Chase Landgraff
James Spencer

On who helped Reynolds climb the ladder of success in practice, “It had to be Chase (Landgraff). He pushed my buttons for three years. He was a smaller dude, but he took me down at will. He’d throw in legs and ride me like a horse. I had no answer for him.

“… Another guy was James (Spencer). He was the one who showed me how to wrestle against the big boys,” noted Reynolds. “He’s one of the main reason I can get shots against much bigger guys now.

“Practicing with James and Coach (Scott ) Wern consisted of me taking at least 50 shots a day. During that same time I worked on strengthening my legs. I just kinda blossomed.”

On whether Reynolds considers myself a pinner, “I watched video on every one of my matches. After Kiwanis this year, I won but I only pinned two kids. I told myself I’ve got to get better at finishing guys off. Now, I walk on the mat with the notion of dominating people.”

On whether Reynolds was satisfied going 34-6 as a senior, “Honestly, no. In my heart, to should’ve only lost to one guy (Punta Gorda-Charlotte senior state champion) Jose Valdez.

“Valdez was better than me. He’s a very technically sound guy. He knows how to defend.”

Selecting the Raiders

University of Mount Union Raiders

Reynolds, 18, plans on studying exercise science and biology at the next level. He yearns to be a chiropractor.

He boiled down his short list of colleges to Southeastern University in Lakeland, Keiser University in Palm Beach, Campbellsville in Kentucky and Mount Union.

“I chose Mount Union because I thought they gave me the best opportunity to become a national champion,” stressed Reynolds. “When my mom and I visited the campus, the members of the team reached out and welcomed me with open arms. I instantly felt the connection with the guys.

“Mt. Union takes a lot of pride with its academics. They have a 65 percent graduation rate. I think I can help them be better than a top-five program in the country.

“…When I was there, the James bothers came over and introduced themselves and welcomed me as a brother. It made me feel accepted.”

Moving to Ohio

Reynolds has some family members that live 4-5 hours away in Indiana and Pennsylvania – to help facilitate the move to Alliance.

Soringstead 220 Christian Reynolds in the Kiwanis Final aginst Robinson High Devin Jandura. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

On dealing with the Ohio weather, “The campus is mostly indoors any way,” shared Reynolds. “Their facilities are really nice. I liked the wrestling room and weight room. They’ve got an indoor track – which helps with those cold winter days.”

On whether Reynolds was ready to take the next step, “Of course,” he replied. “I’ve always wanted to wrestle the next best guy. That’s kinda been my motto. Who ever is standing in the way, I want to wrestle next.

“Perhaps the biggest hurdle is adjusting mentally from being a big dog in high school to starting over in college.”

Mike LaRocca

In a card of thanks, Reynolds wanted to personally thank Coach LaRocca.

“He saw something in me and just had me keep working at it, until I got it,” addressed Reynolds. “He thought wrestling would get me to where I want to be. He was certainly a big help.

“… So was my mom. I have to thank her for always being there and being so supportive. I wasn’t a lot of fun to be around when I needed to drop 20 pounds in a week. But she helped me through it.”

Reynolds says he’s flying into Alliance on July 12 to spend two days of orientation before reporting to school in August.

Before becoming a part of the Purple Raiders, Reynolds was asked about his legacy.

“I’d like to be remembered as a guy who was super friendly, super humble, but the best 220-pounder that ever wrestled at Springstead High School,” he grinned. 

By the Numbers:

Springstead’s Christian Reynolds (2016-19):

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Christian Reynolds
 

YEAR

 

W

 

L

 

.PCT

 

PINS

2016-17

21

16

.568

10

2017-18*

33

17

.660

17

2018-19+

34

6

.850

20

 

TOTALS

88

39

.693

47

* Denotes state qualifier

+ Denotes state placer (4th )

 

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