In athletics, there always has to be someone who accomplished a feat first.
Reggie Johnson is a pioneer where Ashland University's wrestling program is concerned, having been the first Eagle grappler to earn four All-American honors (1980-83). Johnson, who will be inducted into Ashland's Hall of Fame on Saturday (Oct. 12) morning, is one of only four four-time All-Americans in the near-six-decade history of the program.
Johnson, who wrestled for Ashland Hall of Fame head coach Mark Osgood, worked his way up the NCAA Division II ladder at 118 pounds, placing fifth at nationals as a freshman, third as a sophomore, fourth as a junior, and, finally, national runner-up as a senior in 1983.
"You see people who fall through the cracks, for whatever reason," current Ashland head wrestling coach Josh Hutchens said of Johnson's induction. "It's awesome that he's going in now. Well deserved, for sure.
"If you add up points at national tournaments, statistically over his four years, he probably had the most until (Michael) Labry."
Those individual placements helped the Eagles as a team to two of the highest finishes in program history – sixth place in 1981, and fifth place in 1982.
More than 35 years after his last match, Johnson's 115 career wins are tied for fifth-most in Ashland wrestling history. He was the program's all-time wins leader at the time he left the program. Johnson's 38 victories in 1981-82 and 37 wins in 1980-81 are third- and tied-for-fourth-best in Ashland wrestling annals.
Competing in the Heartland Collegiate Conference, Johnson won four league titles, and was named league Most Valuable Player in 1981.
"Ashland, I fell in love with that right off the bat," said Johnson, who is from nearby Mansfield and prepped at Crestview High School. "I originally went to Ohio State, and it didn't feel right. There were too many people, and then, when I transferred to Ashland, it felt like home. I felt peace that I could be at school and be around my family.
"I always gave the matches to God. If I win, thank you. If I lose, thank you. I don't remember sitting back and thinking of me doing all that. I can't picture me wrestling. I don't remember how I wrestled. All my thoughts were, this is for you, God, and I am out here doing this for you."
Said Hutchens, "Hopefully, there will be a lot of people who will come out and support him. Having someone from the area go to the Hall of Fame, it's a great thing."
Johnson is looking forward to Saturday morning, when he will be in the Faculty Room at the John C. Myers Convocation Center for induction.
"I was shocked," Johnson said of when he found out of his induction. "Happy, because I can experience it. I'm happy that I'm able to do it while I am healthy and alive. Pretty happy.
"I'm going to be nervous. I'll be all right. Ashland, I always felt at home there. I really do love Ashland. I recommend anyone to go there. It's a loving school."