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Guerin's Juan Reyes (top) dominates Kelvyn Park's Alex Torres in the 113 lb bracket of the Walther Lutheran Invitational in Melrose Park, IL on Saturday, Dec.10, 2011. | Shauna Bittle~for Sun-Times Media
After losing the match last year that ended the season for Guerin wrestler Juan Reyes, he knew immediately what he needed to work on before the current wrestling season began.
“I got really tired in that match,” Reyes said. “I had to work on my conditioning.”
So, despite posting an impressive 21 wins at 113 pounds as a freshman, Reyes rededicated himself to the sport that he’s been committed to for the last 10 years. He attended off-season wrestling tournaments and camps and when the fall of his sophomore year at Guerin rolled around, Reyes made another decision.
“I ran in the summer, so I decided to go out for cross country,” Reyes said.
Guerin wrestling coach Earl Danan is also the school’s cross country coach, and he can attest that Reyes’ commitment in the fall helped him become a better wrestler this winter.
“We lift and work on a lot of our joints and ligaments in cross country, along with sprint, long-distance and hills; and I think that helped Juan,” Danan said. “He was looking for that edge and I think he gained one through cross country.”
“I’m a wrestler first and a cross-country runner second,” Reyes said, “but it definitely helped. Before cross country I thought I was in good shape but I really wasn’t. It helped me learn how to push myself to the limit.”
The first time Reyes ran a timed three miles for cross country was an eye-opening experience.
“That was really difficult,” he said. “Once you get tired and don’t want to do it anymore, it’s all in your head and you have to learn to push yourself the rest of the way.”
Reyes’ improved conditioning helped him win 27 matches and capture a 113-pound regional title this year. At Saturday’s Class 1A Walther Lutheran Regional, Reyes used a third-period pin over Gordon Tech’s Jose Rodriguez to win his first regional crown.
Reyes is most comfortable wrestling on his feet and he intends to bring his best shots with him to Saturday’s individual sectional at Plano. Another of Reyes’ goals is a record set by former Gator Alex Sullivan, who graduated last year with 103 career wins.
“It’s definitely a goal of mine,” Reyes said. “I look up to [Sullivan] so where the record is concerned I sort of look at him as my friend and my enemy. Beating his record is something I’m aiming for.”