116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Mark Reiland impacted wrestling at all levels.
As a competitor, he was a two-time state champion for Eagle Grove and an NCAA champion and two-time All-American for Dan Gable at the University of Iowa. He transitioned into coaching and turned Iowa City West into a perennial power, winning seven total state team titles.
Reiland also devoted time during the spring and summer, working with wrestlers in freestyle and Greco-Roman through Iowa/USA Wrestling. Then, he began running tournaments after he resigned from his post at West in 2018.
The 2016 Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee dedicated his entire life to the sport and its competitors. Reiland, 52, died Wednesday after a recent illness. He is survived by his wife, Michele, and his dad, Marv, and mom Marlys. The word of his passing circulated through social media, resulting in numerous tributes.
“Mark Reiland. Great teammate. Great coach. Great man. Great friend,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands posted on Twitter. Tom, his brother Terry and Reiland were Hawkeye teammates on national title teams and longtime friends, dating back to their days at Eagle Grove and Sheldon.
It hit hardest to the number of wrestlers he coached. Nate and Nick Moore made eight state finals appearances and won six titles wrestling for Reiland. The bonds he made extend beyond the sport.
“Reiland was family to the Moore household,” Nate Moore said. “He was another father figure to my brother and I and he and Michele were great friends with my parents.
“He was an amazing coach. You could feel his love from the corner and I was scared to let him down. I loved wrestling for Mark. He was extremely confident in himself as a coach and all his wrestlers could see that and we fed off it.”
Reiland was part of one of Iowa’s stellar senior classes, winning the 145-pound Class 2A title as a junior in 1986 and capping his high school career with the 155 crown in 1987, helping Eagle Grove to consecutive team titles under his dad, Marv.
He was a two-time All-American, placing fourth at 158 as a freshman and winning the 167-pound national title as a junior in 1991. His pin of Ohio State’s Kevin Randleman in the finals is regarded as one of the most thrilling finals moments in Iowa wrestling history.
Reiland won 44 matches in 1991, which ranks third in single-season victories for the Hawkeyes. He also won the program’s Mike Howard award presented to the team’s Most Valuable Wrestler. He posted 18 pins in a season twice during his Hawkeye career, tying for 10th in single-season pins. His 45 career pins is tied for ninth all-time at Iowa.
“He was a fierce competitor,” said Cedar Rapids Xavier Coach Ryan Chambers, who was acquaintances with Reiland through friend Bart Chelesvig before becoming Hawkeye teammates in 1992. “If there was still time on the clock he was dangerous.”
The fierceness on the mat became a quiet intensity in the corner. He rarely showed emotion during his wrestlers’ matches. Away from the mat, Reiland had a wry wit about him that those who got to know him enjoyed.
“His dry sense of humor was second to none,” Chambers said. “He could be a little sarcastic (in a funny way).”
Reiland’s biggest impact came as a coach. He served as head coach at Solon from 1997-99. He moved on to coach West from 2000-18. Reiland amassed a 436-108-1 dual record, which ranks 12th in all-time wins among Iowa coaches. He was 411-96 at West.
The Trojans won two traditional state team titles and five state suals championships under Reiland. West swept state tournament team titles in 2006 and 2007. The Trojans made eight state duals finals in a nine-year stretch from 2003 to 2011, adding crowds in 2003, 2004 and 2011 as well.
“He gave myself and the athletes around me a calm and strong confidence,” said Dylan Carew, whose first of two state titles clinched West’s state traditional title in 2006. “He demanded our best, not only at wrestling, but life. He was there as a mentor and friend, who supported us in all of life’s moments.”
He guided 16 wrestlers to 26 state titles, including Nick Moore, the state's 19th four-timer (2007-10) and four-time state finalist and two-time champ Nate Moore. Derek St. John won two titles for Reiland at West and went on to win a 2013 NCAA title and four All-America honors at Iowa. Grant Gambrall also wrestled for West and earned All-America honors for Iowa, while Nick Moore was a Big Ten Conference finalist for the Hawkeyes.
Current Hawkeye Nelson Brands won three state titles with the last coming in Reiland’s final season at the helm.
“This is tough,” Nelson Brands posted on Twitter. “My favorite coach, mentor and good friend recently passed. If you are a prayer throw a few up. Went through it all with him. Love this guy forever.”
West ruled the Mississippi Valley Conference for about a decade under Reiland. The Trojans won 10 MVC Super Meet championships, including nine straight from 2004-12. Seven of the nine four-time conference titlists were coached for at least two years by Reiland.
West and Cedar Rapids Prairie had some memorable battles on the mat. Reiland had set the bar that the Hawks and other programs were chasing.
“Those battles we had early on, we were trying to get to where his program was,” Williams said. “Our kids were excited for those battles. We weren’t on the positive sides too many times. The times we were, that was big for our team. They were fun battles.
“He did so much for the sport, not just at West, but state and nationally wide. He put his heart and soul into it.”
Reiland worked with Iowa USA Wrestling, serving as State Chairman on its board of directors. He spent a lot of time helping train the state’s wrestlers in freestyle and Greco-Roman and traveling all over the country to tournaments.
“He was as influential as anybody in Iowa high school wrestling,” Chambers said. “He wanted the best for everybody.”
Reiland’s legacy continues with a notable coaching tree. Most importantly, head coach Nate Moore and assistant Kody Pudil currently coach the Trojans, receiving the reins when Reiland stepped down. He remained a strong supporter of his pupils and was always available to provide help or advice to Chambers, Moore and others.
“As coach, Mark was just as much in my corner as he was when I was wrestling for him,” Nate Moore said. “If I had a question, or just wanted to call and vent about something he would always answer the phone. He was an extremely good listener. He’d always point me in the right direction even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.”
St. John is an assistant coach at Iowa State. Carew runs Big Game Wrestling Club in North Liberty, which has produced a handful of NCAA Division I recruits. Reiland’s influence is still strong in the sport.
“Coach is still one of the greatest influences in my coaching career,” Carew said. “I feel blessed for the conversations we have had and the knowledge he passed to me and the years I was able to spend with him.”