A funny thing happened to Reagan Dahle on his way to San Luis Obispo, where the Big Valley senior’s eyes are on a college wrestling career at Cal Poly.
The affable, gentle giant was elected vice president of California FFA organization and will spend the next year working throughout the state with various schools and programs as one of six individuals who are student leaders of FFA.
Then, it is Cal Poly.
His wrestling stock grew substantially this season when he finished fifth in the California Interscholastic Federation state championships, where stunned several seeded wrestlers in becoming his school’s first state place winner.
His school’s first state meet entry, too.
No small feat.
First, he had finished fifth in the Northern Section Master’s tournament as a junior.
Then, within days before turning 17, he pinned Sutter’s Max Gipson, who had placed at state the year before, to qualify for the trip to Bakersfield and the state championships.
After a second-round loss to second-seeded Adrian Chavez of Liberty (of Bakersfield), Dahle came back and pinned five opponents to place fifth out of 40 wrestlers in the 195-pound weight class.
He became just the fifth wrestler from the northern part of the state to place fifth or higher in the overall CIF championships and, this year, represented the smallest school in the state on the awards podium.
That effort, along with Dahle’s performance in football and track and field, made him the Herald and News Varsity Cup 2019 Male Athlete of the Year winner.
“It’s a Cinderella story, that’s for sure,” Dahle said. “It was an awesome experience. It was kind of surreal. To be part of it was amazing, to go from fifth in the Masters as a junior to fifth in state as a senior.”
Of his pins to push himself to fifth place, Dahle beat wrestlers seeded fourth, fifth and eighth.
He trailed fourth-seeded Cody Golding of Oakdale, 4-0, before recording a second-round pin.
Dahle trailed fifth-seeded Peter Ming of Elk Grove, 4-0, before he used a Granby roll to get another pin.
Both are in the Sac-Joaquin section.
He also pinned eighth-seeded Andrew Rasmussen of Faith Baptist (of Canoga Park) during a season where he had a 44-8 record. All of his victories were by fall.
“I knew I was representing myself, my school and my community,” Dahle said. “It was everything I had worked for all season. I like it, too, because it’s individual, but you also score team points. It’s you against yourself. I like that accountability.”
What he accomplished was no easy accomplishment.
Dahle was one of only two wrestlers on the Big Valley team this past season.
He often drove to Alturas to wrestle with the Modoc team, which had a couple of heavier wrestlers to help Dahle prepare for meets, and he won most of his tournaments, including several large events over the course of the season.
“He’s the kind of kid who beats you up good and then helps you get up,” Modoc coach Shaun Wood said, and Wood knows a little about the effort it takes to place in the California Interscholastic Federation championships.
Of the other six wrestlers from the far north to place at state, five are from Modoc, including Josh Wood who finished third and fourth in 2008 and 2009. He was the last wrestler from the area to place at state until Dahle pulled off his upsets.
Modoc’s Tony Willis (fourth in 2001) and Tulelake’s John Luscombe (second in 2006) are the only others from the Northern Section to have placed higher.
Dahle also led the Evergreen League in tackles during his junior and senior years of football, and was an all-league pick as early as a freshman. He also consistently finished with 48-foot-plus efforts in the shot put throughout the spring.