ALBIA — As Aden Reeves walked off the championship mat inside Wells Fargo Arena last February, a gaggle of reporters met him inside the tunnel to ask him “what was next,” as he nailed down his second consecutive state title for the Blue Demons.

The senior-to-be at Albia High School didn’t miss a beat, responding that he would be turning all of his attention to Fargo to wrestle for a national freestyle title. “I’m going after that big plate. I’m sick of coming up short up there,” Reeves said. His dream came up one match short.

Reeves opened up his championship run in the Junior 120 Freestyle Division with a first round bye in the 128-man bracket. In the round of 64, Reeves quickly dispatched Daniel Vargas of New Mexico, with a 19-9 technical superiority in 4:18.

From there, Reeves would out score his next two opponents by a combined score of 22-2, defeating Jordan Haskins from Texas in the round of 32, 10-0 in :51 and Daniel Kimball, the 2018 Class 1A 106 pound state champion from Don Bosco-Gilbertville by a 12-2 technical superiority in 2:13 in the round of 16.

The win would set up a matchup in the national quarterfinals against Ohio’s Angelo Rini. Trailing 8-7 with 90 seconds remaining in the mach, Reeves would go on to score five unanswered points, scoring two takedowns and earning a step out point to win 12-8.

Reeves would then move on to the national semifinals, a round that wasn’t overly kind to him last year in Fargo, losing a highly controversial and heartbreaking 15-10 match to four-time Washington state champion and Pan-American gold medalist Brandon Kaylor. With last year still fresh in his mind, Reeves was once again one win away from reaching the national finals. This time around, things would be much different.

Facing Julian Tagg of Ohio, who is ranked second nationally by Flo Wrestling, Reeves would open up the scoring with a two-point exposure 20 seconds into the match, followed by a feet-to-back four-pointer to take a commanding 6-0 lead a mere 10 seconds later. Tagg would then cut Reeves’ lead to 6-2 with a takedown of his own with a minute to go in the first period and followed it up with another two-point takedown as the first 3-minute period came to an end, closing the gap to 6-4 with 3 minutes left in the match.

In the final frame, Tagg earned a step out point 30 seconds in to run the score to 6-5. A crazy 30-second scramble ensued with both wrestlers gaining several opportunities to earn points, but a stalemate brought the wrestlers back to their feet with Reeves maintaining his one point lead with a minute left in the bout.

During the next 30 seconds, Tagg unleashed a furious pace which led to Reeves being called for a passivity caution and one, which evened the score for the Ohio wrestler with 25 seconds to go. Following a heated discussion on the call at the scorer’s table, the match was becoming eerily similar to Reeves’ semifinals match from the previous year. However, the last 30 seconds of the match is being called the most exciting of the entire event.

With 10 seconds to go and a berth in the finals on the line, Tagg got in deep on Reeves’ leg and yet another incredible scramble ensued. As Tagg tried to finish the takedown, Reeves countered with a cutback to come out on top, securing a takedown of his own, extending his lead to 8-6. As the final seconds ticked off, Tagg scrambled back on top to gain another two points, tying the score at 8. However, the feet-to-back four-point move in the first period 30 seconds into the match was exactly what Reeves needed to win the match on criteria, sending him to the national title match.

“I didn’t forget about last year,” said Reeves. “I wasn’t going to let it happen again.”

Although Reeves went on to wrestle the next day in the national finals match, it wasn’t the result that he was seeking as he lost to Eric Barnett of Wisconsin, a University of Wisconsin recruit. “I’m not too concerned about the loss in the finals to be quite honest,” said Albia Coach Dave Wenger, “because I know how Aden responds to losses. He lost in the state semifinals as a freshman and went on to win it the next year. He lost in the semis at Fargo last year and rebounded to make it to the finals this year. He lost in the finals this year, so I’m pretty sure that he will have something to say about that next year.”

So now when asked “what’s next for Aden Reeves,” it’s pretty simple in his mind. “It’s time to go back to work to get that third state title,” he said. “Then after that, I’ll keep chasing that big Fargo plate again next summer before I go off to Iowa State. There’s still plenty to get done.”

“Aden is one of the most goal-oriented individuals that I’ve ever met in my life, “said Wenger. “He writes things down, he visualizes success, but most importantly, he goes through the things that he has to do to get it all done. There’s no magic wand involved.”

With his Junior Freestyle stop sign this year, Reeves is now a five-time Fargo All-American. Coupled with four that Carter Isley has won, Albia wrestling can stake its claim to nine overall in the last four years, which puts them in the top five all-time for Fargo All-Americans for the state of Iowa.