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Prep Newsmaker: Cloquet heavyweight Reynolds has his eyes on state

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton senior heavyweight Devin Reynolds sits in a 300-pound tire at Cloquet High School on Wednesday. Reynolds uses the tire while training for his wrestling season by lifting and flipping it over several times. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)1 / 2
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton senior heavyweight Devin Reynolds. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)2 / 2

Talk to Devin Reynolds for any length of time, and a couple things stand out.

First, the Cloquet senior is a big dude. Second, his hair is yellow. Or maybe it's orange. Either way, it catches your attention atop Reynolds' 5-foot-11, 278-pound frame. It's been there since early November, when Reynolds and his Cloquet football teammates celebrated a Class AAAA state tournament bid by making the tops of their heads resemble sunflowers.

Reynolds hasn't cut his hair since, and the dye remains. He might as well leave it there a little longer, just in case there's another state appearance to commemorate.

Reynolds likely will enter the Feb. 24-25 Section 7AA individual meet seeded third among heavyweights. The top two will advance to Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

"My hope is to win the individual section, make it to state and at least make it onto the podium," said Reynolds, who came up just short a year ago, losing in the 7AA semifinals.

He's headed in the right direction. Reynolds is 30-3 this winter and heads the News Tribune's wrestling honor roll for heavyweights. Most of those 30 victories were via pin. In that regard, little has changed since Reynolds ambled onto his first mat, as a kindergartener.

"I pinned the first person I ever wrestled," he said.

How long did it take?

"I think it was 10 seconds," Reynolds said.

He wrestled through sixth grade before going on hiatus, only to return as a sophomore. Similarly, Reynolds played football briefly as a youngster, but it didn't stick. He gave it another try as a junior and morphed into a wrecking ball on the Lumberjacks' defensive line, parlaying 39 tackles into a host of postseason accolades, including a spot on the News Tribune's All-Area team.

Reynolds must be a quick study.

He's quick in other areas, too. In fact, Cloquet-Esko-Carlton wrestling coach Al Denman says that's one of Reynolds' best attributes — his quickness and deceptively nimble footwork. Words like "quick" and "nimble" aren't often associated with 278-pounders, but they are terrific complements to Reynolds' sheer strength. He bench-presses well north of 300 pounds.

"He can do things as a heavyweight with his feet that other heavyweights can't do," Denman said. "He's very agile, he's very athletic.

"When he pulls the trigger on a guy, there aren't many people faster than him on a takedown."

One other pursuit in which speed suits Reynolds well: stock-car racing. He's been driving pure stocks on the local dirt-track circuit since he was 13 and entered Victory Lane for the first time at Proctor Speedway last summer.

Racing, however, can wait. Reynolds has unfinished wrestling business.

One of his three losses this season came against Grand Rapids' Alex Boyd. That setback underscored the importance of refraining from unforced errors. Reynolds made two against Boyd and it hurt him. Like Denman says, lightweight wrestlers can mitigate a mistake and fight off a pin. But good luck wiggling out from under a heavyweight.

"You make a position error on a heavyweight wrestler, now you've got 285 pounds on top of you," Denman said. "One error — you put your head down wrong or you expose yourself just a little bit — and then once you go toward your back, you're not getting up."

Denman says Reynolds has defeated highly ranked Class AAA opponents, so has the ability. Now it's about locking in and executing a game plan. Reynolds likes that aspect of wrestling. He studies his foes and looks for weaknesses or tendencies, anything that will give him an edge. It's part grudge match, part chess match.

"You have to be smart," Reynolds said. "Know what you're doing before you step on the mat."

Reynolds comes across as soft-spoken. Not shy, but not generous with words, either.

"He's a goof, though," Denman said. "He has a great sense of humor. His mom says he's loud and obnoxious at home, but I don't believe it."

And, while Reynolds might look intimidating, don't be fooled. He's a big teddy bear, according to his coach.

"He doesn't have a mean bone in his body," Denman said. "But he knows how to compete."

Prep Newsmaker: Devin Reynolds

Prep status: Cloquet senior

Age: 18

Sports: Football, wrestling

Family: Father, Dale; mother, Leann; brother, Derrick

Pets: Two dogs

College plans: Iowa Central Community College to wrestle and study diesel mechanics

Face-to-face with Devin Reynolds

If I could meet one person — dead or alive — who would it be? Olympic wrestler Kyle Snyder

My ideal vacation: Atlantis resort in the Bahamas

The toughest athlete I've competed against: Brady Beier, a wrestler who graduated from Mora in 2015

If I had a million dollars, I would: Invest it

Hobby: Stock-car racing

Car I drive: 1988 Ford F-150

Favorite home-cooked meal: Mom's scrambled eggs and cheese

One thing at the top of my bucket list: Skydiving

Favorite musical group: Nirvana

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