LIBERTY — Some accomplishments in sports are hard to wrap your mind around.
This year, the Liberty boys wrestling put up the third highest team point total of all-time in Missouri state history as the Blue Jays dominated the field on the way to a Class 4 state title.
But Liberty’s 120-pound star Jeremiah Reno was the one who spearheaded that performance as his fourth straight individual state championship capped off a feat so rare that only two other wrestlers in Missouri state history had accomplished it.
Reno finished his high school career with an undefeated record at 179-0.
After his final match, Reno said that he felt relief and amazement to have finished perfectly.
Starting wrestling at age 5, like most kids at that age, Reno had a lot of energy and his parents were looking for any productive outlet for him.
That’s when his uncles Ted Perez and Stephen Zamora — both of whom wrestled at Oak Park High School around the time that Reno’s future Liberty coach Dustin Brewer won three state championships there — pitched the idea of their nephew joining Victory Wrestling based in Pleasant Valley.
“I don’t think he liked it at the beginning because it was pretty hard,” Perez said. “He was kind of uncoordinated. He sort of struggled but throughout the first year it started to click.”
Perez said the family kept Reno in wrestling the next year after he started to show success. Reno kept improving so they kept enrolling him in tougher tournaments.
“He took his lumps throughout some of those tournaments but as we kept going back to them, he just progressively got better year after year,” Perez said.
Reno isn’t sure when he realized he wanted to stick with wrestling, but he does remember when he knew he had aspirations to become a college wrestler.
Reno came up short against a tough slate of competition at Tulsa Nationals during his seventh-grade year. His finish left him feeling like he needed to buckle down and put in the hard work necessary to compete at the next level, he said.
The result which leads Reno to push himself even harder is second place.
Reno always took advantage of his time in the wrestling room but by eighth grade he started to do the same in the weight room. He listened to any minor improvement that his coaches could find despite his victories.
His dedication didn’t end when the team’s practice let out though. Reno would head to his Uncle Teddy’s house nearly everyday to utilize his wrestling mat and workout equipment. More importantly, Perez was able to provide one-on-one coaching for Reno to further dissect his craft.
“I feel like we watched a lot of tape,” Reno said. “We’d go over my wrestling and my workouts a lot. I didn’t get consumed by it but we made it a big part of my daily life.”
Perez spoke similarly.
“There was probably a few times his mom called to see what was going on but that was maybe for a big tournament,” Perez said. “I think he found his own balance. He just wanted to get the work done so he could have time to go play video games and get schoolwork done.”
His hard work paid off. Reno has committed to the University of Nebraska to compete for a national powerhouse wrestling program while majoring in engineering.
Reno may not finish with a similar undefeated streak at the college level but he has already set the goal of winning a national championship.
Considering how he responds to second-place finishes, it’s probably not out of his reach.