These days Devin Reynolds walks around the halls of McNary High School with a huge plastic boot around his left foot and ankle.
It’s a cumbersome piece that restricts his movement and makes him walk with a limp, but is necessary considering the significant injury – a tear of the tendon in his ankle – he has.
It’s not a minor or fresh injury but a significant injury he incurred back in early January, not even half-way through his senior season of wrestling.
Watching him dominate opponent after opponent – he went 45-0, won the Reser’s Tournament of Champions and his second straight OSAA Class 6A state championship this season – it was hard to tell that he was slowly making his way through the halls of McNary on crutches on bad days.
“I don’t think it slowed me down in a match,” Reynolds said. “Usually when I step on the mat I didn’t feel it. It wasn’t until I got off the and the match had stop, then I would feel it.
“I wouldn’t say it really slowed me down or anything. I still wrestled tough and beat some pretty good kids.”
Reynolds had a perfect senior season – and he is the Statesman Journal All-Mid-Valley wrestler of the year – so it’s impossible to guess how much better a perfectly healthy Reynolds could have been.
“I would say he was definitely not 100 percent, but he was good enough to modify his style and still find a way to win,” McNary coach Jason Ebbs said. “I don’t know what his percent was, but he wasn’t 100 percent.
“How much better he could have been? He could have been better, but he got done with the tools he had to do it.”
The last wrestler from McNary to go undefeated for a season was Sean Santana – now an assistant coach at Sprague – who went 32-0 as a junior in 2003.
Reynolds also became the first wrestler from McNary since Santana to win multiple state championships.
In the grand scheme of things, Reynolds ranks among the top wrestlers ever to come through the school, and that includes former NCAA national champion Hoard Harris.
“I’m hoping that he’s already picked out his spot right next to Howard Harris’ picture down at Oregon State’s Gill Coliseum,” Ebbs said. “I think the sky’s the limit for him.
“Is he the best wrestler to come through McNary? I’m not sure. He’s not done growing. I just hope that we get to have this visit here again within the next four years and we’re talking about what did Devin Reynolds look like on ESPN when he was wrestling in the NCAA finals.”
He is taking a slight break from wrestling in the spring freestyle and Greco-Roman season to let the injury heal and hopes to be back wrestling in a month at the Reno Worlds and after that at a competition in Las Vegas.
Once that is over Reynolds figures he will concentrate on training to prepare to wrestle in college.
His recruitment has picked up since last spring and summer’s freestyle season and he has scholarship offers from Oregon State and North Carolina State and is working out the details on taking an official visit to Iowa State.
“If you had asked me when I was a freshman if this would be me now, I would have said no,” he said. “I didn’t really believe in myself then. It’s kind of an amazing thing.”
Reynolds started wrestling while in elementary school, but after a couple years he gave it up because of “family stuff.”
He started wrestling again in seventh grade while attending Claggett Creek and went undefeated that year.
But he says he it took him a while until get got serious about the sport.
“Freshman year I just wrestled the season then I was done,” he said. “I didn’t wrestle freestyle or anything. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I took wrestling serious.”
In that sophomore season, he placed second in the regional meet and fourth at the state meet.
It was a good foundation from which Reynolds built.
“For the last year and a half I’ve said the most dangerous training tool for Devin Reynolds is to watch him get beat because I’ve never seen a guy lose and come back and get so much tougher so fast before in my life,” Ebbs said.
“I don’t know how he does it. Some guys lose, they have to go to the practice room and focus on skills and drive and train and you don’t see results for three, four weeks. All of a sudden the ceiling goes a lot higher real fast.”
Reynolds sustained the ankle injury on Jan. 10 while scrimmaging with teammate Riley Repp before their dual meet against North Salem.
He had to be patient and let the injury heal as best as he can, but it also was during his senior season of high school wrestling so h e didn’t want to give that up.
“It’s hard to hold him back because he’ll find a way to wrestle anyways,” Ebbs said. “So it’s kind of my job that he finds a way to let it heal, too. Now that season’s over we kind of get to make healing the biggest priority, but definitely every week was a conference and a talk and do we need to get you in the lineup? Do we need to not get you in the lineup?”
A few weeks after the injury Reynolds won the Reser’s Tournament of Champions – the tournament often referred to as Oregon’s unofficial all-classification state championship.
It was the first time a wrestler from McNary had won the tournament, and was one of those few things that Reynolds hadn’t previously accomplished.
Not to be disrespectful, but he regrets not being in the same bracket as wrestlers like Tyler Berger of Hermiston and Reed Van Anrooy of Roseburg.
“There’s some things there that he’s self-motivated to do,” Ebbs said. “He’s okay winning. He’s okay meeting his goals. But before he’s met his goal, he’s like a set of dominoes, he already knows what the next domino is and he’s already working for that domino.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701