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Reynolds returns in official capacity

March 08, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

Shawn Reynolds has come full circle inside the squared circle at the Maryland State Wrestling Tournament.

In the past two decades, Reynolds has been a state champion, an assistant coach and an observer. Now - 20 years since completing North Hagerstown High School's first-ever undefeated season - he dons the black-and-white stripes of an official.

"It's going to be different being out there making the calls for the first time," said Reynolds, one of 14 to officiate the state tournament this weekend at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.

"As the official, you always have to be impartial, but a coach or a spectator usually has only one person to go for. Now, I just have to make sure both kids go at it until the end."

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Reynolds won the 1988 Class AA-A state championship at 185 pounds in his senior year, posting a 31-0 record. He qualified for the state tournament three times, but this year made his first trip to officiate the event.

The Washington County Wrestling Officials Association sends one referee to the state tournament each year, but Reynolds - a 15-year veteran - had been out of the rotation because of his responsibilities as head coach for the North Hagerstown baseball team.

Changes in scheduling allowed Reynolds to spend an extra week on the mat.

"We've had a few more days of baseball practice," Reynolds said. "I have confidence in my assistant coaches to handle things this weekend."

Much has changed since Reynolds last sported the Hubs singlet.

In his day, a first-round loss at the state tournament was the end of the line. Now, wrestlers can battle through consolation rounds to earn a medal, which are given to the top six finishers - two more than during Reynolds' era.

"It's better now because some kids go down there, it's their first time and they freeze up," said Reynolds, who also placed fourth at 185 in his sophomore year. "In most tournaments, these guys see there are only three or four mats at the most. They're going to get down to Cole Field House and see eight mats down on the floor. It's a lot bigger."

Classifications have also changed. In 1988, Reynolds swept through Class AA-A - the modern-day equivalent to 4A-3A. What is now 2A-1A was once known as B-C.

Points were scored differently when Reynolds competed and there were two fewer weight classes.

The one constant over the years has been North coach Greg Slick, who has coached four state champions, including Reynolds, and wraps up his 29th season this weekend.

"(Slick) got me mentally prepared for states. He would give me my bout sheet when I lost at the state tournament the year before," Reynolds said. "I used to put it above my bed and I would see it every night before I went to sleep."

During his career, Reynolds often dropped more than 30 pounds in the transition from football to wrestling just to make the 185-pound class. There was no 215 class.

Today, all he must do is drape the whistle around his neck.

Anything to be close.

"I just wanted to stay in the sport I got so much out of," he said. "Time flies when you get out of school. I don't want to say it feels like just yesterday, but it definitely doesn't seem like it's been 20 years."

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