KSU Varsity K Hall of Famer Steve Reedy strives for the best

By Tom Hardesty Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Steve Reedy felt extremely confident as he took the mat. The Kent State senior was moments away from taking on Matt Reese of North Carolina State in the 1981 NCAA Wrestling Championships, and the odds weren't exactly in his favor. Reese was the defending national champion and was a good bet to dispose of the kid from Kent State. But Reedy was not about to be anybody's speedbump on the road to the national title. It simply is not in Reedy's nature to back down from a challenge. Not then, not now. So when he took the mat against Reese, Reedy wasn't hoping merely to make a good showing, to keep it close or to make Reese work for his win. Reedy took the mat looking for one thing: a victory over the defending champ. And he got it, controlling Reese in a convincing 10-4 win. That one match defines Reedy's competitive nature, an iron-willed desire to win that is a major reason why he is among the seven 1998 inductees into the Kent State Varsity "K" Hall of Fame. "People have always said I just had the will to win," said Reedy, the current wrestling coach and athletic director at his alma mater, Ravenna High School. "I hate to lose. I'm a very competitive person. And the older I get, winning isn't as fun but losing is harder to take, if that makes any sense." The win over Reese helped propel Reedy to All-American status as he ended up sixth in the nation at the NCAA Championships. He eventually lost a tight 9-7 decision to Iowa's Mike DeAnna, the tourney's No. 1 seed and a four-time All-American. But that defeat did not take away the importance of Reedy's win over Reese. In fact, when asked his most memorable athletic achievement _ and he's had a boatload _ he did not hesitate to answer. "Winning that match to be an All-American," he said, "because I don't think too many people thought I could be an All-American. I can still remember that match, the satisfaction of knowing I had it in me to be an All-American. "Getting into the Hall of Fame means a great deal, considering there haven't been a lot of All-Americans at Kent State. To be inducted into the Hall of Fame like Jack Lambert, Lou Holtz and Thurman Munson makes you feel pretty good. It means you're one of the elite athletes in Kent State history." Reedy had entered that 1981 national tournament coming off his championship in the 167-pound weight class at the Mid-American Conference tourney. That, combined with his competitive nature _ and a little scouting _ added up to some good vibes prior to the match. "I had seen him at the NCAAs the year before when he won it, and I remember thinking then that I thought I could do pretty well against him if I ever had the chance," said Reedy. "I was watching him and sometimes you get a feeling, and I had a feeling I could do well against him. Just the way his style of wrestling was and my style, I thought I would fare real well, so I was real confident going in." Today, in his 13th year as Ravenna's wrestling coach, he tries to pass on that same attitude to his wrestlers _ and apparently they've got the message. Prior to this season, Reedy had coached the Ravens to a 159-24-3 record (an incredible .855 winning percentage), an amazing eight consecutive league titles (seven in the former Metro League, one in the Western Reserve Conference), and the 1993 Division II state championship. "That's what I try to do with our kids at Ravenna, to have them go against the best and get an opportunity to see where you stand," said Reedy. "That's probably one of the biggest lessons I learned in college." Reedy enters the Varsity "K" Hall of Fame as one of the most decorated wrestlers in school history. To wit: - he earned four Varsity "Ks" from 1978-81; - he led the Golden Flashes to a 44-12-1 dual-meet record, four MAC team titles and two top 20 NCAA rankings; - he holds the Kent State record for most victories in a career with 110; - he set the Flashes' season win record with 38 dual-match victories in 1980-81; - he was team captain in both his junior and senior seasons; - he led the Flashes to a school-record 16 dual-meet victories as a senior (a mark that was equaled by the 1984-85 squad); - he shared the Joe Begala Award with teammate Ray Wagner as a senior; - he was selected team MVP as a junior and senior. Prior to his ultra-successful career at Kent State, Reedy had become Ravenna's first-ever individual state champ when he won the Class AAA 155-pound title in 1977. He was a three-time Metro League, sectional and district champ at Ravenna. As a sophomore he had been state runner-up, setting the tone for the rest of his high school career. "For the next two years, people at Ravenna really expected me to win it all," he said. "There was a tremendous amount of pressure. I finished third as a junior, and everyone asked me what happened. When I won as a senior, it was more a feeling of relief. "That's a lot of pressure to put on a kid, and it happens to my wrestlers nowadays. Steve Daugherty won (a state title) as a junior and Jimmy Holmes won as a sophomore. There was a lot of pressure on them to win again, so I knew what they were going through." Still, nobody puts more pressure on Reedy than Reedy himself. "I always put pressure on myself every year," he said. "I don't think people realize how hard I am on myself. People don't realize the sleepless nights that go on in the Reedy household, even if we had won that night. "The kids (on the wrestling team), even my kids at home may say I'm never satisfied. I don't think I'd be satisfied unless we had 14 state championships, and then I wouldn't be satisfied unless they all won by pin. But really, it's not about wins or losses, it's about giving 100 percent. If you give 100 percent, that's all you can do." The Ravenna program Reedy has built into a state power is a far cry from the one he inherited 13 years ago. It serves as yet another testament to Reedy's burning desire to excel. "Before I came to Ravenna, there had been six coaches in 10 years," he said. "It just seemed like a position they put somebody in whether they knew anything about wrestling or not. They asked me what my goals were, and I said my goal was to bring a state championship to Ravenna. "I looked around the room, and everybody's jaw was on the floor. They looked at me like I was crazy, because Ravenna hadn't even won a league title in 12 years." Of course, since then the Ravens haven't just won nine straight league championships, they have also won that 1993 state title. And in 1995 they were state runner-ups. And this year? "Our goal is to win a state championship," he said. "With a little luck and a lot of hard work, we may be able to achieve that goal." You can bet Reedy will meet this new challenge with the same determination and confidence he demonstrated when he took the mat in the NCAA meet 17 years ago.

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