published Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Early return from injury gets Ooltewah wrestler Tyler Reid a return to state

Ooltewah High School sophomore Tyler Reid, top, works out with teammate Donovan Thomas during wrestling practice Monday. Reid suffered a broken arm in Ooltewah's last football playoff game but was cleared three weeks ago to wrestle and qualified for the state tournament with a fourth-place finish Saturday in the Region 4-AAA tournament.
Ooltewah High School sophomore Tyler Reid, top, works out with teammate Donovan Thomas during wrestling practice Monday. Reid suffered a broken arm in Ooltewah's last football playoff game but was cleared three weeks ago to wrestle and qualified for the state tournament with a fourth-place finish Saturday in the Region 4-AAA tournament.
Photo by Erin O. Smith.

Tyler Reid's athletic career was put on hold.

For six months, the doctor said, after he broke both bones in his right forearm in the final minutes of Ooltewah's football playoff loss to East Hamilton in November.

The sophomore wrestled Saturday, though, in the Region 4-AAA tournament and earned his second trip to the state tournament.

He did it on three weeks of training with no live competition outside the Owls' wrestling room.

The break was ugly.

"It didn't hurt, really. I thought at first it was a nerve. Then when I got up I couldn't move my arm," Reid said. "The trainer picked it up and it was like a noodle."

So he had the initial surgery, one that involved plates and screws, just days after the game. He thought he'd be on the shelf at least until a second operation in March to remove the plates.

"He was cleared for any physical activity just nine weeks after the first surgery, which was three weeks before the region," Ooltewah wrestling coach Wendell Weathers recalled. "That news caught Tyler and his dad by surprise, because it was something they never considered, and they even asked the doctor if the clearance included wrestling."

Tyler's dad, Tim, called Weathers with the news and asked for advice. Could Tyler get in shape in time for the region after being idle for nine weeks?

"Tyler really had nothing to lose," Weathers recalled. "There were no performance expectations after what he'd been through, but it was a decision Tyler and his family had to make."

"I suited up that day," Tyler said.

The first week in the practice room was a nightmare.

"It was hard on him, and his performance was worse than I had feared," Weathers remembered. "Nine weeks of doing nothing put him way behind what it takes to compete at this level and in this kind of labor-intense sport. I figured his lack of mat time would hurt him even worse, and he wouldn't be able to wrestle a match until the region tournament."

Weathers also knew that the first match of the season for anyone can be a shaky ordeal.

"Every day for three weeks, he worked to get ready for his debut. He even went to Hixson and crashed their Sunday afternoon open mats [workouts]," Weathers said.

Reid, putting the eight-inch scar on his right arm out of his mind, lost his first match at the region last Saturday but bounced back to gain the consolation finals and an eventual fourth-place finish.

It was enough to secure him another week to wrestle.

"The kid has shown remarkable courage. He went through a devastating and traumatic injury only to dive into the toughest sport with plates in his arm and just weeks after a violent injury," Weathers said. "I don't know many, considering the injury, who would attempt what he did."

And it paid off with a trip to Franklin and the state tournament.

"I was nervous, but after the first match I felt a whole lot better," Reid said. "I plan to go do my best and see what happens."

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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