Before he began high school and started wrestling Iroquois High School junior Brandon Reed was, in his own words: “a little tubby jerk.”
Basically he was overweight, out of shape and hard to motivate.
A couple of years later, though, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Reed is lean, in shape and ready to win state.
Reed, the state runner-up in 220 last season, is ranked No. 1 in the state in that weight class and off to a 7-0 start this season.
How and when did you get started wrestling?
My freshman year, it was the beginning of football season and I went out to try to play football (but) I couldn’t make the team. So one of the football coaches, his name was Gary Cole, he was the head coach for wrestling at the time, he asked me if I wanted to come wrestle and I said, ‘Yeah sure, it’ll be fun.’ I came out and I died, but I really like coach Cole so I stuck with it.
Tell me about when you say you “died.”
A: My very first practice we ran stairs. We have a staircase in the school that we ran for 30 minutes straight. I weighed about 260 pounds (then) and running those stairs was horrible. I think I lost about 10 pounds that day. It was pretty bad.
So are you glad you joined the team?
I’m more than glad. It’s amazing.
What makes it amazing?
I’ve met a lot of people in Kentucky that I never think I would’ve met before. I’ve gotten a lot more opportunities to travel too with wrestling. I just love being in shape now too, it’s like my thing. Oh, I’ve become a lot more confident (too). That’s really the main reason. And it’s just super fun.
So what were you like before you joined the wrestling team?
I wasn’t very active at all. I would sit at home…watch cartoons all day, I had no interests at all…eat a lot, like all the time. I was super obese. I did horrible in school (too). I wasn’t going anywhere in life. But wrestling helped me with everything.
You went 9-12 as a freshman, then went 45-5 and won the region your sophomore season. What changed?
During the summer after my freshman year I worked my butt off with a couple of guys from Trinity, mainly Grant Ohlmann (a 2010 grad and former state champ), and I got a lot better over the summer. Coach Cole, he had a bunch of contacts and he helped me train all summer. My second season started off really good and ended really good.
You finished second in the state last season (losing a majority decision to Campbell County’s Austin Myers, who capped off a 56-0 season and 182-0 career with his fourth state title), so what’s the goal for this season?
Obviously to finish first.
What are you going to have to do to accomplish that?
I’m just going to keep killing myself in practice. Try to get as much practice in as I can. I practice six days a week. Not all of them are here, I go to a club to practice too. I just try to work out as hard as I can, watch as much film as I can, just try to learn all the little stuff. There’s good people out there I just have to be ready to beat them. Nothing matters til state to me, so if I lose a match before then it doesn’t matter, it’s just a learning experience. The only day that matters is February 23.
You don’t seem like a very mean guy. Do you have to work at being mean?
I was such a butterball to start out with. No, I wasn’t a tough guy naturally. I just have to act tough when I wrestle.
What do you do in your spare time?
I bodybuild. I barely have any spare time. I go to practice, I go home, bodybuild, take a shower, then I eat and then I do homework and then I go sleep. And then I repeat every single day.
The holidays are coming, but wrestling season is already under way. Are you going to eat a lot?
Me, personally, I’ll eat. I’ll eat, because I’m a big boy. I get to eat, but I watch what I eat. Like, am I eating too much stuff with sugar? Am I eating too many carbs? Stuff like that. Usually I don’t have to worry about what I eat. I stay away from chips and I don’t drink pop and I make sure I’m not breaking a caloric surplus and eating like 3,000 calories a day. I try to stay very moderate when I eat.
BRANDON REED UP CLOSE
Student-athlete: Brandon, whose favorite subjects are welding and AP Language, has a 3.6 GPA. He is a three-year member of the wrestling team at Iroquois and is also a member of the Ace Mentors, Skills USA, International, judo and rugby clubs.
Family: Brandon, 17, lives with his mom, Tina Steier; his older sister, Desi Gray, 21; his older brother, Ronnie, 18; and his younger sister, Christina Rodriguez, 7.
Iroquois coach Tom McKenna says: For the short time Brandon has been wrestling he has accomplished a lot. He is the true product of hard work and determination.