July 3, 2010

Ultimate dedication

Bruins freshman driven toward success

Alex Reynolds embarks on his high school athletic career in August, but he arrives at Northwest Whitfield High School already an accomplished wrestler.

The 14-year-old Reynolds has a formula for success and, while it’s nothing just off the assembly line, he’s taken it to a new level for such a young champion.

Reynolds is dedicated to sports, especially wrestling. He also plays football and competes in track and field.

As if he doesn’t have enough on his plate, Reynolds hopes to take up cross country at Northwest.

To be so committed at such a young age, Reynolds thrives on his passion for sports. However, with various  sports he’s participating in, there’s literally no offseason for an athlete that weighs slightly over 100 pounds.

“Really, I dedicate myself to whatever I’m doing,” said Reynolds, who had a 65-6 wrestling record at North Whitfield, went 37-0 as a seventh and eighth grader and won three Whitfield County Middle School Athletic League championships and one Georgia-Tennessee title.

Two of his six losses came against high school-aged wrestlers.

“I just want to be an all-around athlete,” he said.

Reynolds is well on his way to achieving that goal. And he does it with hard work and determination — seemingly around the clock.

This summer Reynolds has been working out with coach Mike Falleur’s football team — he’s a running back and safety — on Monday and Tuesday mornings. He is also practicing with coach Allen Tucker’s wrestling squad on Tuesday and Thursday nights and attended Ringgold’s wrestling camp and has another one scheduled at Dalton later this month.

He finds time to get in some running with his father, Jason Reynolds, a former wrestler at Northwest who was pushed by his father, Pat Slaughter, to take up the demanding sport. Slaughter, Jason Reynolds said, was 72-1 wrestling while in the Army.

“I didn’t have a chance not to wrestle,” Jason Reynolds said. “With Alex, I didn’t push him like my dad pushed me. I tried to let him grow into the sport, but we’ve been doing summer camps since he was in the fourth grade and he’s been beating high school kids since the sixth grade. He’s been to the Christian-based Higher Calling camp in Cleveland, Tenn., the last two years. He’s a lot better than I was.

“He works hard and when he’s not at practice he’ll usually work out by himself or with some friends. He’s doing something almost every day and coach Tucker has been great letting my son go to these camps with his wrestlers.”

Alex Reynolds has always been a hard worker, driven to excel. As a sixth grader, he would fill two milk jugs with water and use them as weights. Tucker eventually gave him two 20-pound weights and he now uses them to gain arm strength.

In Reynolds, Tucker sees unlimited potential as a high school wrestler. Tucker is enthused about what lies ahead for his prized incoming freshman.

“He’s as good as I’ve had in a long, long time,” Tucker said of Reynolds. “When Merle Bolton came here, he was a first- or second-year kid in wrestling. Alex has been wrestling since the third or fourth grade.”

Bolton went on to become a three-time Daily Citizen Wrestler of the Year, who won Area 7-4A championships in three different weight classes.

Tucker’s twice-a-week workouts are designed to “keep the rust off” his wrestlers during the offseason. Drills are designed for the “little things” that keep wrestlers sharp, things Tucker says turn into victories during the season.

“We take a week to work on bottom positions,” Tucker said. “We take a week and work on top positions. Every week we work on footwork. There’s an old saying in wrestling that if you can’t take people down and you can’t get off bottom, you won’t win many matches. That’s wrestling in a nutshell.”

As in any other sport, even at the high school level, there is a fear of being outworked by individual and team rivals.

“In Metro Atlanta, for instance, they have USA Wrestling, Team Georgia wrestling and academies and it’s very expensive,” Tucker said. “We can’t afford that, but we still have to compete with those guys. It’s real important for us to do these basic things in the summer.”

At the four-day Ringgold camp, Northwest wrestlers went against those representing Ringgold, Dade County, Murray County and Gordon Lee.

“Basically, it’s a free camp,” Tucker said. “The kids got to learn a bunch of things from different coaches and that’s good.”

When school starts, Tucker will put his Bruins on the P90X workout regimen and that will lead perfectly into the 2010-11 wrestling season.

“We’ll do that four days a week and we have morning sessions for younger kids that don’t drive and afternoon sessions for those who do drive. I did the program two years ago and lost 48 pounds in 51 days. I love it. And when the season starts, these guys will be close to their natural wrestling weight.”

For Alex Reynolds, that will be 108 pounds.

Without question, the diminutive wrestler with the big reputation will be ready to launch his high school career.

The will to outwork any opponent is in his genes.

Even with the Georgia High School mandated “dead week” in effect from today through July 10, Reynolds won’t let up.

“I’ll do some running and might go to my friend Hunter Mulkey’s house and throw some passes and run pass routes, things like that,” Reynolds said.

Or, he could get in some study time.

“Alex likes to spend time on the internet watching guys Eric Berry (former Tennessee All-American first round draft choice — fifth pick overall — by the Kansas City Chiefs in April) and Knowshon Moreno (former Georgia second team All-American and first-round pick — 12th overall selection — of the Denver Broncos in 2009), seeing what they do on the field,” his father said. “Like I said, Alex is very dedicated. He’s serious about his sports.”

And, he’s extremely busy trying to perfect his athletic skills.

The great ones never take time off.

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