There’s dominance and then there’s what the Reynolds Raiders have done on the wrestling mat.
It’s a program that is on a very shortlist of the best in Pennsylvania, not just in wrestling, but in any sport. They proved that again in 2021 capturing their astounding fifth consecutive state team title in Class 2A.
Under the direction of head coach Casey Taylor, they did so in dominating fashion early and by grinding out wins in the semifinals and finals.
Their eight total team totals are the most of any program in Pennsylvania.
The run started with a ninth consecutive District 10 title, 45-15 over Fort LeBoeuf. It was followed by a 50-21 quarterfinal drubbing of Forest Hills, 35-30 over Burrell and 31-22 over Southern Columbia.
The state championship match came with its fair share of drama, as the Raiders found themselves in an early 22-3 hole.
Kane Kettering sealed the championship with a 6-1 decision at 132. Rocco John-Daniello (285) and Logan Hammerschmidt (106) had first-period falls to close the gap to 22-18. Chase Bell picked up a major decision at 113 to tie the match at 22-22 and Liam Foore gave the Raiders their first lead with a decision victory, followed by another decision from Gary Steen.
Liam Foore’s 7-2 decision victory at 120 put Reynolds in front for the first time, 25-22, and Gary Steen won a 2-0 decision at 126 to make sure the Tigers would need a pinfall to tie the match.
As per usual it was a strong, balanced lineup for the Raiders, led by Steen, who finished third at 120 pounds at the individual championships and Kaden Berger, who was fourth at 145.
They also featured the likes of John-Daniello, Hammerschmidt, Bell, Foore, Kettering, Dreyvin Livingston, Jalen Wagner, Jordan DeCarmen, Cole Toy and Owen Miller.
It was a milestone season for the program and for Taylor as well, notching his 200th career win.
And they accomplished all of it during a truly unique season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the formula for all the success is pretty straightforward.
“I try to provide the kids with the same opportunity I had, a structured work environment in a workout room where they know what to expect when they walk in there,” Taylor said. “Keep things consistent; the expectation of hard work, discipline, and family-oriented. That’s what I was provided by my coaches.”