Reader leads wrestling team

Jake Calhoun

Midway through the season, Jon Reader has stepped up as the leader of ISU wrestling and has hit some milestones along the way.

Almost halfway through the season, the senior is the only undefeated wrestler on the team, with a 23-0 record, and has earned the No. 1 ranking in Intermat’s national poll at 174 pounds.

“I think he’s recognized as the leader even without me acknowledging him as the leader,” said coach Kevin Jackson. “I wouldn’t want any other leader on our team or anybody in the country to take his spot.”

Two big accomplishments have made Reader’s senior year beyond meaningful thus far.

In late December, Reader won his first-ever title at the Midlands Championships following three-straight years of finishing second in the two-day tournament in Evanston, Ill.

“It was great to win the tournament my senior year,” Reader said. “To get over that little hump was a great accomplishment.”

On his way to that title, he became the 36th wrestler in ISU history to eclipse the 100-win mark after his 9-3 victory over former All-American Jarion Beets of the University of Northern Iowa in the round of 16. He now has a 108-23 career record in an ISU singlet.

His success this year has been motivated by his performance at last year’s NCAA Championships, where he fell one win short of earning All-America status for a third-straight season.

“The first thing I did was forget everything that happened,” Reader said. “There’s nothing I could do to change what the results were last year.”

Reader has come back from that gut-wrenching experience poised to avenge his performance at the 2010 NCAAs.

“This is my last season, and it really is just about going out with no regrets and to just compete and have fun,” Reader said. “I’ve got two months left in my collegiate career, and I’m just wrapping my head around everything.”

Reader’s turbulent style of wrestling has been one of the key contributors to his success as a Cyclone.

“I look at every match as just competing as hard and as smart as I can,” Reader said. “That’s how I’ve really been attacking each one of my matches this year is just going out against the next guy in front of me and going seven minutes as hard as I can go.”

The influence Reader has on the team stems from his ability to lead on and off the mat by setting an example in multiple facets.

“He’s always doing the right thing,” said teammate Trent Weatherman. “No matter what coach asks him to do, whether he believes in it or not, he’s just fully committed to the team. He just lives and breathes wrestling and that’s what makes him a great leader.”

Weatherman, also one of Reader’s housemates, has noticed his habit of doing the right thing reaches far outside the wrestling room.

“He’s a good student, he’s going to bed early every night, he’s getting his schoolwork done, he makes sure he’s early to practice every day,” Weatherman said. “Just everything like that makes him really unique and the good leader that he is.”

Although staying perfect halfway through the season is a difficult task for many wrestlers, Reader has taken everything in stride and has put himself in position as a contender to the 174-pound title this March in Philadelphia.

“He’s going to be the guy to [win the title]. He trains harder than everyone else and he’s just one of those guys,” Weatherman said. “Once we get to the national tournament, I don’t think anyone is going to touch him. I don’t think anyone is going to be able to hang with him at all.”