SHERIDAN — Reese Osborne didn’t expect to win the Rapid City, South Dakota, Invitational earlier this month.
The Sheridan High School freshman wrestler had only one match under his belt heading into the fiercely competitive tournament that featured teams from Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota. Yet, the quality opponents were no match for Osborne, who won the 113-pound class with a spotless 5-0 record that included two pins.
“Going into that tournament, I’d been searching for like 12 years how to find that ideal competitive state,” Osborne said. “And I found it there. It was beautiful.”
Osborne’s discovery bodes well for the rest of the season, one for which he set lofty goals. Osborne wants to win the state tournament this year and eventually become the first four-time state champion from SHS.
Those immense aspirations certainly seem possible. Osborne currently ranks third in the 4A 113-pound class with a 15-1 overall record and pins in more than half of his matches. Osborne’s lone loss came less than two weeks ago in a Worland tournament, a 4-0 decision to Tate Stoddard from Glenrock, a two-time 2A state champ.
Osborne started wrestling at age 3, but success did not occur immediately. He said he only won one match in his first two years but worked with his father, Kenny Osborne, to improve.
His current head coach, Sheridan’s Tyson Shatto, said Osborne is confident yet coachable, adding that Osborne understands angles and positioning extremely well.
“He’s a student of the sport,” Shatto said. “He loves wrestling and that makes the connection very easy for me, because I do as well.”
Shatto had some experience coaching Osborne before this year, as Osborne trained with the high school team in seventh and eighth grade. Those two years provided an up-close look at Hayden Hastings, one of Osborne’s role models. Hastings won three state titles and now wrestles at the University of Wyoming.
“I’d watch how Hayden worked and drilled, and then I’d go out and I’d see the results,” Osborne said. “It was just really inspiring. I knew that I could be that good … My goal is just to do what Hayden did. Do it better, really.”
Osborne maintains the same routine in the few minutes before every match: put his headgear on, visualize certain moves and anticipate what the opponent might do, then go out and execute. In his first match, a home dual against Worland, Osborne took a moment to appreciate the opportunity.
“Before that night, I had always been that kid in the crowd,” Osborne said. “When I walked out there on the mat, I just realized, ‘Hey, this is one of my goals, and I’m here.’ There are people like me that are in the stands, so I can be that person now and a guy that’s a role model for other people. Just like Hayden Hastings was when I was watching him from the crowd.”
Osborne said that before he was even in junior high school, he set the goal to eventually win state. That goal requires round-the-clock vigilance in all aspects of life: academic, social, mental, emotional and physical. That goal means it is not good enough to merely have great conditioning and mat technique.
Osborne frequently works outside of practice on other areas like strength training. He also wrestles below his normal weight and has to pay strict attention to what he eats.
His normal weight hovers around 128 pounds. Most weeks, Osborne comes in Monday weighing around 120 pounds. Practices mosty take care of the excess weight, as Shatto said most wrestlers lose three to six pounds each session.
After Osborne goes through grueling practices against quality workout partners like Trevon Covolo and Matthew Legler, his natural reaction is to eat as much as possible and gain that energy back, but he has to resist that urge.
“It’s huge discipline, especially at this age, because when hunger takes over, we tend to cater to that,” Shatto said. “That’s a human necessity, hunger, and a lot of time (wrestlers) are at the limits of whatever they can tolerate. (Osborne) recognizes that. He works through it. He maintains it. He eats the right things. He lives his life the way that needs to be led.”
Shatto said it is hard to pinpoint Osborne’s chances of winning state at this point in the season. He said Osborne’s path to improvement is mainly a broad progression, but that he can get better in a few aspects, including stringing a chain of moves together and starting from the top position.
“There are going to be a lot of trials and tribulations before that (goal) can manifest itself,” Shatto said, noting that many other excellent wrestlers have their eyes on that ultimate prize in February as well. “The fact of the matter is, you try to get yourself as consistent as you can. Wrestling the best that you can, so when the postseason comes, you’re as ready as you can be to give yourself an opportunity to wrestle for that goal. That goal isn’t just lived two months from now. It’s every day.”