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Success In Silence

February 28, 2011, 10:03 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Success In Silence
ABERDEEN, SD - He came home from the state wrestling tournament this year with his strongest finish yet. He took third the last two years and has some impressive stats throughout the years to back up those finishes.

Being a senior at Parkston, this is Eric Reiff's final year of high school wrestling. But he'll be remembered for more than a legacy of pins.

The Reiff family from Parkston is no stranger to the state wrestling tournament.

"He's been around it forever; he's watched his brother be a two-time state champ," Coach Jared Digmann said.

And Reiff has been in the state tourney a few times himself. This year he came into it with another very successful season, pinning his opponent 26 times. That's only one shy of the school record, which he tied the year before.

"Well, I just throw them in the cradle and I just pin them," Reiff said.

"I mean everybody in the state knows that's what he's going to do. They just haven't figured out how to stop it," Digmann said.

The school record for fastest pin is five seconds.

"I was trying to beat that and I never did it. One time I almost had it, but the ref was kind of too slow," Reiff said.

So he's settling for 10 seconds being his fastest for the year. He's been wrestling since age six; his parents have been there throughout.

"Oh yeah, we're real proud," his dad Tom said with his mom, Jo, nodding in agreement.

The Reiffs say they're very proud of all their kids but there's one thing different with Eric. They don't yell as much at his matches.

"He was about a year and a half and it was actually Tom's mom," Jo said. "I called his name and she goes, 'I don't think he heard you.’ And then I called him again and he didn't look and I stomped on the floor and he turned around and looked."

And that's when they learned their son, Eric, was deaf.

He has a cochlear implant, which is a device that provides some hearing, but he doesn't wear it while wrestling or at practice. He doesn't have an interpreter there either.

"I would say it doesn't affect him either way," Digmann said. "We've figured out ways to communicate with each other."

"Well I can read their lips and sometimes they give me a sign. And I know what they're trying to say and all that because I've been in wrestling a long time," Reiff said.

During practice Digmann will talk directly in front of Reiff if there's something he needs to know. They have practice partners and Reiff's partner will relay information to him.

While he's wrestling, Digmann will wait until time outs or between periods to give orders to Reiff when he'll shout out to other wrestlers while they're on the mat.

But the differences stop there.

"In the room, I'm going to treat him just like everybody else and going to ride him just like everybody else, push him to try to be the best he can," Digmann said.

His parents appreciate that and don't see him any different out on the mat either.

"Yep, and that's the way he likes to be treated. He doesn't like it any different," Tom said.

"He just goes out there and, you know, we don't yell as much," Jo said.

But they're no less there and no less proud either.

With three state tournaments behind him, you could say Eric Reiff has earned the right to advise other wrestlers what it takes to be successful.

"You’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to show up to practice all the time," Reiff said.

As far as being able to hear or not while there, well, this year Reiff came home a state champion.

Reiff will be going to Lake Area Tech next year for auto body. That's not a school with wrestling, but he says he might try to keep up with wrestling through other avenues.

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