(Mount Ayr) -- Ryce Reynolds' sophomore campaign to remember with multiple school records and two state championships has earned him the 2022 KMAland Track Athlete of the Year honor.
His dominance made the Mount Ayr star an easy choice for this honor after a memorable showing at the Class 1A State Track & Field Championships with titles in the 400 and 400 meter hurdles.
"It's starting to hit me," Reynolds said. "It's unreal. I can't be prouder of anything that happened this year. Especially with how I ended my season."
The always humble and methodical Reynolds caught KMAland by storm early in the season and never wavered in his championship quest.
That was evident when he shattered Mount Ayr's 400 meter hurdle record in their first meet of the year. That showing was his first 400 hurdle race of his prep career. From there, Reynolds felt the sky was the limit this season.
"I was nervous and wasn't expecting to break the school record," he said. "That's when I realized I could be good in this race."
Good might have been an understatement. Reynolds qualified for the Drake Relays with ease and set a new school record in each of his first three times in the event.
"I knew I could potentially be good," he said. "I'm decent at the 400 and could get over hurdles just fine with some practice. It's a race that you have to work towards with steps and pacing. I didn't expect what happened, but it did."
Reynolds nearly won the Drake Relays, falling short by one-hundredth of a second to Lisbon's Kole Becker. Reynolds appeared to have won that race, but a late kick by Becker relegated Reynolds to second.
"I ran the race I wanted to and kept my pace as long as I could," he said afterward. "I wish I would have finished the last straightaway better, but I can't ask for a better race."
Many might have hung their heads following a tough loss on a big stage like that, but Reynolds remained upbeat and used it to his benefit.
"After the Drake Relays, I talked to my coaches," he said. "We knew I could work on endurance. They stuck me with some challenging races. I knew I had to build for that last part of that race."
Reynolds got revenge 20 days later with titles in the 400 and 400 meter hurdles to conclude his remarkable campaign.
"After crossing the finish line, the feeling was phenomenal," he said. "I can't really describe it. There was so much pride."
His gold medals etched his name in Mount Ayr lore with other Mount Ayr greats such as Kyle Dolecheck, Noah Larsen and Brayden Poore.
"Growing up, I always followed them and watched them go to state track," Reynolds said. "I looked up to them and wanted to become one of them one day. It's amazing I grew up to be one of those guys."
Success at state track has been a family affair for the Reynolds siblings. His sister, Addy, shined in her own regard and grabbed three runner-up finishes in her final appearance at state track.
Ryce has admired his sister's career throughout.
"She has always been there," he said. "It's going to be hard not having her there next year. She has been a role model for me and someone I could look up to through sports, academics and her character."
The younger Reynolds still has two years remaining and is aiming high for the duration of his prep career.
"The state meet record in the 400 meter hurdles would be amazing," he said. "In the 400, breaking 49 would be pretty amazing. I want to keep the momentum going."
Reynolds joins former winners Brayden Wollan (Underwood), Logan Jones (Lewis Central) and Chase Mullenix (Atlantic). Check out the full interview with Reynolds below.