SHERIDAN — In the middle of a phenomenal freshman season, pressure and expectations started to weigh on Reese Osborne. Even though the Sheridan High School wrestler was winning nearly every match, victories didn’t bring as much satisfaction as they once did.
“Even after winning 15-0, I’d be frustrated,” he said.
Osborne would think back on little mistakes and tell himself they would cost him the state title. Winning brought only a sense of relief, sometimes not even that.
In the last few weeks, though, Osborne rediscovered his love of wrestling. Instead of competing for other people or trying to meet outside expectations, he wrestled for love of the sport and his faith.
The changed mindset helped Osborne relax and annihilate his competition the rest of the way, culminating with an individual state championship in Casper last Saturday in the 113-pound weight class.
Osborne tallied three pins and a major decision on his way to the title. None of Osborne’s opponents could muster a single point against him. He was in complete control over the weekend and led 9-0 when he got the second-round pin over Cheyenne East’s Lucas Robinett in the championship match.
SHS assistant coach Kasey Garnhart, a four-time Wyoming state champion, never shut out his opponents in the state tournament.
“For him to do it as a freshman is pretty outstanding,” Garnhart said.
After easily dispatching his first three opponents Friday, Osborne waited over 24 hours for the final match, a rare occurrence in most tournaments.
“It’s almost like a prizefighter getting ready for one fight,” SHS head coach Tyson Shatto said. “That’s a long day to just sit and dwell on a match. You can wrestle it 50 times in your head, and that can be taxing on a guy.”
However, Osborne said the pressure he felt earlier in the season was gone. After weigh-in Saturday morning, he went to IHOP and enjoyed eggs, sausages and crepes. To help stay occupied during the long wait, Osborne watched other teammates compete, talked with wrestlers from other schools and got in a few short workouts to stay loose.
Winning state had been a goal of his for several years, and Osborne secured it convincingly. After winning the championship, Osborne celebrated with a feast of sorts at Olive Garden. The weight requirements that accompany wrestling required diligence from Osborne with his diet, so Saturday night was a chance to enjoy the spoils of victory.
“The season was everything I hoped for,” he said.
Osborne finished 45-3 on the season and was undefeated against 4A competition. He only lost to one wrestler, Glenrock junior Tate Stoddard, who defeated Osborne in all three of their matches. Stoddard won his third consecutive 2A state title over the weekend.
Other than those against Stoddard, Osborne’s miscues were few and far between. After he won the Rapid City Invitational in South Dakota in early December, everyone took notice. Osborne took down the eventual South Dakota state champion in that tournament and was the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class for the rest of the season according to WyoWrestling.
Garnhart said Osborne’s technique and positioning stand out, making him equally capable of scoring points or defending an opponent’s move. Osborne also improved his wrestling from the top position this year and is getting better at pinning opponents.
Garnhart said Osborne is a “super offensive” wrestler and wants to get as many points as possible; he is not content in waiting for his opponent to make a mistake, but rather attacks from the start. Osborne is also an extremely quick learner, partly because he already has more than a decade of wrestling experience under his belt.
Along with three-time state champion and current University of Wyoming wrestler Hayden Hastings, Osborne is the second Bronc wrestler to take home a state title as a freshman under the current coaches’ tutelage.
Osborne practiced with the high school team as a seventh- and eighth-grader and tried to learn as much as he could from Hastings, mainly how to emulate his work ethic.
Hastings understood a bit of what Osborne went through earlier this season and may go through down the road. Hastings said he put too much pressure on himself after winning state as a freshman.
“Whenever I had failures or setbacks it was really frustrating knowing that, ‘I should be better than this; I can be better than this,’” Hastings said. “Setbacks are frustrating, especially when you’ve reached a high level; you think that you should be moving forward.”
Garnhart agreed. Osborne won’t fly under anyone’s radar next season — if he even did this year — but Garnhart said Osborne should be more than up to the task.
Hastings advanced to the state finals as a sophomore but lost the championship match. He narrowly missed becoming the first Bronc wrestler to take home four state titles, something on which Osborne has set his sights.
So far, so good.