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Remember The Wrestler: Brian Reece, Clarke-Osceola HS/UNI/Central College

I do not know Brian Reece. I have never met him in person and was only 6 years old when he was a Senior in HS, so I don’t remember watching his state finals match on TV when I was a kid.  I asked him to do one of these, for he was so nice in helping us put together a year’s worth of state finals matches that we had one of the most difficult times finding…1989.  It was a nightmare trying to find any VHS tapes for that year until we met Brian Reece and then Mike Isaacson.  And to pay him back in whatever way I could, his was the first match that Bill Cummings put together when we got those and HOLY COW…WHAT A FINALS MATCH HE HAD THAT YEAR!!!!! If you haven’t watched that one, DO IT NOW, for it’s one of the best matches to ever take place at The Barn. This man has guts.

Another thing that was cool to see was the reception of fans when his finals video was posted.  I don’t know if any wrestler who has posted their finals match(es) on facebook has received the love that Brian Reece received when he posted his.  Tons and tons and tons of “likes” and comments.  He is obviously a very well-liked person in his wrestling community.

So for those of you who saw a 1989 match that was important to you and that you may have never seen before we posted it, you have Brian Reece, Mike Isaacson and Bill Cummings to thank for that!!

What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?

Osceola Mat Club, Clarke Community High School, UNI, Central College


What year did you graduate?



Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

My parents.


Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.?

My dad wrestled. My brother Eric. Two of my sons, Gable and Coel, wrestled.


How did they do?

My brother Eric was a state qualifier his senior year, 1992. Gable just missed out on districts his senior year. Coel had to quit because of concussions.


What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

I wrestled a lot. I wrestled a lot of tough hombres growing up. Jason Jewitt and I had some battles.


What was your record in HS?



How did you place at state every year?

Qualifier, 5th, 1st, 1st


What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?

I dislocated my elbow my junior year of college a week before the conference tournament and had to miss nationals that year.


How would you describe your wrestling style?

Technical. I was not one to out=muscle anyone. But I was a sponge when it came to learning technique. I think that combined with my quickness/balance allowed me to beat some people who were animals.


How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?

I didn’t really go back and forth with anyone.


Who was your most influential coach?

I had a lot. Rod Gall and Mike Burgraff were my high school coaches. Burgraff was the one who taught me about mental toughness. I was fortunate to have Jim Miller as an assistant for one year at UNI and he was a master motivator. Kevin Azinger, my head coach at Central, taught me more technique than anyone.


Was your team competitive in HS/college?

Yes. Clarke got 6th at state in back to back years (1989, 1990). The ’93 team at Central finished 9th in NCAA’s.


Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?

Matt Diehl and Mike Laib from Clarke were the first two that I remembered going to watch growing up. They were 98 and 105, and I was a little fart, so I naturally gravitated to the lower weights.

Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?

Dan Gable


Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

Jordan Burroughs at the senior level. Spencer Lee in college.


What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?

Lunatic Fringe

What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?

My sophomore year in the quarterfinals I got pinned. It was the only time in my career. I was crushed.


If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?

I wish I would have chosen neutral at nationals my senior year in the quarters. I lost on a riding time point.


What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?

Wrestling all the way back my first year at Central in the consolations to get 4th at NCAA and earn All-American honors.


Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?

Jeff O’Gara from Wisconsin Lacrosse was my nemesis in college. We pushed each other for 3 years. Lim Prim (Grinnell) was probably the best wrestler I beat in high school. Steve Pladsen (Waukon) and Matt Gonshorowski (Washington) went on the win state titles.


Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?

I wrestled as much as I could. I loved freestyle. We only had a wrestling room from November to February. It was on the stage. As soon as wrestling season was over, it was torn down. I had to travel to Indianola, Chariton, Winterset, etc. to work out. But I never gave it another thought.


How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?

I think we’d fare ok. But there are some extremely talented wrestlers now.


Did you wrestle after high school?


What other sports did you play?

Football, tennis, baseball


What are your favorite sports teams?

Redskins, Braves, Celtics, all Hawkeyes


What are your hobbies other than wrestling?



How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?

It makes it all worth it when I see my wrestlers grown up and leading successful lives. I am so proud of the wrestlers that I have coached, whether they ended up on the podium and/or became successful teachers, businessman, and fathers.


How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?

It taught me self-discipline. Anything worth earning is worth working for.


What do you do now?

I teach at Central Academy in Des Moines and for DMACC. I coach at Clarke.


Are you still involved with wrestling?

Yes. Head coach at Clarke Community in Osceola.


Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

Have fun. The thing I have always appreciated about our sport are the relationships that I formed along the way. I went to wrestling tournaments when I was young to see friends and then wrestle in that order.

Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?

Those days are long gone.


Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?

I am so proud of the wrestlers that I have coached, whether they ended up on the podium or became successful businessman and/or fathers.

Another guy, I’d like to shout out is Jaysson Gurwell from Saydel. When we first wrestled, he was just starting, I think it was our sophomore years. I pinned him in 0:22. Flash forward to our senior year and he gave me a hell of a battle in our conference finals. He went on to finish 4th at state that year. It just goes to show you what hard work can do. He is also grown up to be a great man.

Also, I can’t thank the assistant coaches that I’ve had over the years. They have been very loyal and were great coaches to work with.

Dave Ewing helped me out a lot when I was a young coach. He was always a sounding board and was always willing to share.


Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.

My senior year in high school I beat every wrestler who stood on the podium with me at some point that season.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Paula Reece June 27, 2020, 12:12 pm

    Thank you for doing this tribute to Brian! He is truly the best person I know and an amazing coach, very much in part to all of the amazing coaches he had along the way. It’s so fun to see him meet up with old teammates and opponents. The guy has never met someone who is not a friend. He’s an amazing dad and does everything he can to keep his role as a coach and a dad separate. This really means a lot.

    • Rico Swaff June 27, 2020, 12:44 pm

      Proud to do it! I am glad that you all like it!

  • Brent Lawrenson June 29, 2020, 10:23 am

    Well deserved. I had a lot of great times with Brian and like he said, it is about the friendships made not the hardware. The friendships last and the hardware gets thrown in a box and put in the closet.

  • Jeff Dyer December 4, 2020, 11:00 am

    Great guy!! Always had a smile on his face.

    I had the chance to wrestle Brian two times my sophomore year. I was lucky enough to be one of those 11 wrestlers to get a victory over Brian, at the Corning tournament when we were sophomores. He avenged that loss at the state meet in the wrestle backs to place.

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