‘I have to win’: Steamboat’s Muhme, Reynolds dominate the western slope with new mindsets
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Most athletes feel odd in an empty gym devoid of fans and energy, but Ivan Reynolds thrives. He finds comfort in the fact that there are fewer eyes on him and less pressure.
“I think it’s great because there’s not a lot of people in the stands, I feel like I can perform better. I don’t get nervous,” he said. “I hated having my parents or family watch me because I was scared to disappoint them.”
With a lack of nerves, a newfound confidence, a little more muscle and a drive to finish his senior season strong, Reynolds has just one loss on his record this winter, paving a dominant path to regionals, and hopefully, state.
Sailors sophomore Cole Muhme is also on a dominant run, having yet to lose this winter with a 6-0 record.
Reynolds spent the summer working out and putting on nearly 20 pounds, moving up from the 152 weight class to the 170 weight class. Steamboat Springs head coach Jordan Bonifas thinks that strength provided Reynolds with more belief and conviction, feelings that have caught Reynolds off guard.
“I’m pretty surprised by how confident I am this year,” he admitted.
With that confidence, he knocked Soroco High School state qualifier Kody Logan on his back. Soroco and Steamboat opened the season at a Triangular at Hayden High School. Like Reynolds, Logan had packed on more muscle, moving from 152 to 170 since last winter. Reynolds wasn’t intimidated by the fact that Logan went to state the last two years. He went in and earned the first takedown. He seemed to stun the Ram, at least through the first period. Logan ended up winning by pin just 29 seconds into the second period.
“I knew he beat me in the past,” Reynolds said. “Knowing this guy’s been at state, I still want to show him that I’m a good wrestler and that I also improved, just tire him out.”
Aside from that honorable loss, the Sailor has won his other seven bouts, all by pin. Four of his falls were earned in the first period, three in less than a minute.
“His mindset is ’I’m just going to go out, I’m going to score as many points as possible,’ and I think that takes a lot of pressure off when you’re not worried about your opponent or if you’re going to lose,” Bonifas said. “He’s wrestling to win instead of wrestling not to lose.”
A third-generation wrestler
It’s understandable for Reynolds to be dedicated despite the strange and unpromised season. He’s a senior, this winter is all he’s got left. Looking at Muhme, it’s much harder to understand just how serious he takes the sport.
When the 113-pound sophomore gets prepared for a match, he looks like he’s about to avenge someone. His brow furrows, and he starts to pace. He walks up to the check-in table and smacks his legs, telling his muscles it’s time to perform.
He walks through the moves he wants to hit, what he’ll do right at the whistle, what he’ll do on top and what he has to do if he finds himself down. As he gets in the zone, there’s only thing on his mind.
“I have to win,” he said. “There’s no other option.”
While that seems like an intense attitude for an underclassmen, in wrestling years, Muhme is old. Not only has he been competing for 12 years, but he has generations of wrestling in his blood.
His grandfather, Jay Muhme, was a Colorado state champion in 1971. He also was a coach at Steamboat Springs High School in the early 2000’s, when his son and Cole’s father, Levi, was a wrestler. Levi was a state qualifier back when he was a Sailor, and Cole is hoping to keep that streak alive.
Cole has won all six of his matches by pin, the four most recent ones all coming in the first period, but the young Sailor isn’t raving about his performance this year.
“I’m doing OK,” he said. “I just need to work on a couple things, do some fine tuning before regionals.”
‘Hungry and humble’
As all athletes in every sport have to this year, the wrestlers have to take their success lightly. They’ve seen a small fraction of the wrestlers they typically would in a season. With no tournaments allowed and limited travel, the Sailors have seen mostly teams on the Western Slope.
Usually, the Sailors travel to larger tournaments that host dozens of teams where small town wrestlers can meet front range nemeses they will likely encounter at state. They’ve lacked that this year, so where they stand in the big picture is a little fuzzier than usual.
“I do think it’s awesome to be undefeated, but I just told them you have to stay hungry and humble,” Bonifas said. “There’s always going to be somebody that’s chasing them or better than them.”
Even with a limited idea of how Reynolds and Muhme stand compared to the rest of Colorado, the battles he’s seen from them this year have made him confident they can make it to the state tournament.
“I believe in every one of my guys, but those two especially,” Bonifas said. “The way they wrestle and the confidence they have, how hard they’re practicing and eager to win. I have my money on them, for sure.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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