It’s been a long way coming for Gilroy High senior Ryan Reyes, who started wrestling at 3 years old. From Fresno to Gilroy and soon back to Fresno, Reyes, who is in his first year at Gilroy High, accepted a full-ride scholarship to Fresno State two weeks ago. Even with the scholarship, Reyes has unfinished business at Gilroy. With a first-year coach—UFC star Daniel Cormier—Reyes’ goal is nothing short of winning a state championship.
“I think we have the best coaches, the best team in the country and state and I’m not done yet,” Reyes said. “I want Gilroy to win a state title, and I’m not going to stop working until we do that.”
For the 195-pound senior, his motivation to transfer from Clovis West High School in Fresno to Gilroy wasn’t exactly a “if you can’t beat them, join them,” decision. During his sophomore and junior years, Gilroy was enemy No. 1, and one of Reyes’ most fearsome opponents was former Mustang Tony Andrade, who went 4-1 against Reyes in five matchups.
“Gilroy was the right fit for me,” Reyes said. “The coaches are putting me in the right place to be. I don’t think they’re preparing me to be the best wrestler in the state, but the best wrestler in the country.”
Reyes is a Fresno kid, and from elementary school to his junior year at Clovis West, that was where he wrestled. Reyes was the star wrestler for the Golden Eagles, but there wasn’t much there besides him. Reyes was unwilling to settle for mediocrity, and he decided to transfer to Gilroy.
“We really didn’t have a team there beside me,” Reyes said. “We didn’t have the coaches, and I wasn’t set up for success. You need to break off from the things that hold you back, and I’ve got nothing but the positive energy here.”
For Reyes, the decision to go to Fresno was in part a decision to go home for the Fresno native. Reyes also wants to serve Fresno youth as a role model showing them what kids from The Valley can do.
“I was born a Bulldog, and I’m glad I have the opportunity to represent the state and wrestle for them,” Reyes said. “I want kids to know that they can be something great in Fresno. I want to win, and I want to be a symbol that kids can look up to.”
Coaching was a big deal for Reyes, and Gilroy’s first-year wrestling coach, Cormier, is as big a deal as they come.
“Why wouldn’t you want to come to a school where Daniel Cormier is the
head coach?” Reyes said.
Coach Cormier, or D.C, has been on campus working his team into shape for the upcoming season. Cormier is the new “big man on campus,” and while he may strike fear in the ring, the UFC Champion with a 22-1 record, was all smiles as Reyes signed to wrestle at Fresno State.
“When Ryan transferred in, it was a breath of fresh air for a guy just taking over a new job, and you’re losing two state champions and a state finalist,” Cormier said. “When you get a kid like this, you don’t know what to expect from them, but from day one he’s been a leader and a professional. He’s been a pro at getting his weight down, training, and setting an example of what we want for our program.”
Recruiting started during Reyes’ sophomore year. By the time he was a junior, he had 18 offers from schools around the country, including wrestling powerhouse program Oklahoma State. Several schools, went hard after Reyes, insisting that he sign his letter of intent immediately. Reyes and his parents didn’t fall for the ploy.
“We had an older son (Nikko Reyes) who went through the recruiting process; we have a little practice with this,” Ryan’s mother, Leticia Reyes, said.
“We knew this school and this program was tailor-made for Ryan, and the proof is in the pudding,” Laz Reyes, Ryan Reyes’ father, said. “I’ve seen changes in my son; he’s becoming the leader I knew he was when he started wrestling.”