116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS – Coe’s Kaleb Reeves is stronger, more confident and comfortable this season.
The 2021 National Wrestling Coaches Association All-American has benefited from a productive offseason in Greco-Roman competition that included top-five finishes at the U.S. Senior Nationals and U23 Nationals in the spring and an appearance at the U.S. Senior World Team Trials in September.
“I didn’t even really take a break,” the Kohawks’ second-ranked heavyweight said. “I went straight through the end of last season into Greco and stuff. The constant training, the fact that I’ve been staying in it, has really elevated my wrestling. My shape is better. I feel I changed my body. I feel like staying in the sport is what made the results become a little better.”
Reeves has transferred the offseason Greco-Roman work into a dominant start to his senior season. He owns a 12-0 mark with 11 pins and a major decision, including a 15-second pin over Errol Alden in Coe’s 54-0 dual win over Buena Vista Wednesday at Kohawk Arena.
“It’s different this year,” Coe Coach John Oostendorp said. “He had a really good summer of wrestling. I think he’s starting to train at a higher level, so he’s making a jump in his wrestling.”
In addition to the time spent on the mat and improving technique, Reeves dedicated himself in the weight room. He lifted weights before, but didn’t quite grasp Oostendorp’s emphasis to “lift with a purpose.” Reeves began to lift with experienced teammates that helped him learn some tricks of the trade he didn’t know. The improvements were noticeable.
“Lifting is crucial,” Reeves said. “It’s everything. From your leg attacks to snap downs, for me it’s my body locks, it gives you strength everywhere.
“Equating the things I do in the weight room directly onto the wrestling mat is what changed the philosophy of my body.”
Oostendorp said Reeves has been young for his grade and division. He has witnessed the gains Reeves made in physical maturity.
“I just think he is starting to grow into his body,” Oostendorp said. “He’s really starting to grow mentally, so he can really push his body harder. It’s really beginning to show in his results and how he competes.”
Reeves has been more than just good during his transition to the folkstyle season. He pinned his way to titles at the Luther Open and Coe Invitational. Nine of his 11 pins have come in the opening period and just two matches have reached the third.
Reeves ranks third and fourth in single-season pins with 19 as a sophomore and 18 as a freshman. He has 57 career falls, trailing Coe leader Rob Kramer by four.
Oostendorp said Reeves has created more opportunities for his Greco-Roman moves. He is dictating the action more and opponents have to engage. Reeves also diversified his attacks, including a low-single finish and transition to a half-nelson for the quick fall over Alden.
“I’ve noticed he’s been able to force a person to wrestle him,” Oostendorp said. “There are certain positions where he is a handful.”
Hard to fathom he was intimidated by older and more experienced wrestlers when he began his college career. Reeves has overcome that mentality and is boosted by confidence. Few competitors will match the challenge he faces daily in the practice room.
“I was lying to myself,” Reeves said. “I wrestle Coach O in the room every day. If I could do that to him, then I could do that to these guys.
“Now, I have more faith in my body and more faith I am as strong, or stronger. I feel like that has made me comfortable and willing to throw my body on the line.”
Reeves arrived at Coe with international aspirations, gravitating to Oostendorp, a member of the U.S. Greco-Roman National from 1993-98. He was a Junior national champion and placed fifth at the World Championships during his redshirt freshman season at Iowa. Oostendorp represented the U.S. at the 1995 World Championships and was an alternate for the 1996 Olympic team.
“I couldn’t ask for a better coach,” Reeves said of Oostendorp. “It’s a constant reassurance that these goals are doable because Coach O has done it. He has been there…He’s been through it. He knows what I need to work on, my strengths and my weaknesses. He’s very well-versed in it.”
Reeves placed fourth at the U.S. Senior Nationals to qualify for the World Team Trials. He was fifth at the U23 National tournament. Reeves said he has realized he has the ability to make “more waves” at the senior level. He already competes against the nation’s best, who train Greco-Roman year-round and are accomplished on the world level.
“I realize it’s not just a dream anymore,” Reeves said. “It’s becoming a reality now. My ultimate goal is to make a world team, make an Olympic team.”
Oostendorp’s messages are well received and that has made a big difference in Reeves’ progress. The passion for wrestling and his dedication has been a vital part of growth.
“One of the things that helps Kaleb to continue to develop is he is very coachable,” Oostendorp said. “He has a real love for the sport, so he is willing to put in the time to get good at it.”