There are many ways to win a wrestling match, and Reilly Dolan chooses to do so in a manner that has spawned a nickname.
A Morrison senior, Dolan is known as “Funky D” for a wrestling style that is all his own. That moniker was given to him by a teammate early in the 2015-16 season.
“I don’t have the most technical wrestling style,” Dolan said. “One of the juniors at the time, John Anderson, yelled it from the crowd because he wanted to be funny. It seemed to stick around the conference. It’s not my favorite nickname, but the other kids seem to like it.”
Funky, however, seems to be an accurate way of describing Dolan’s style on the mat. He’s always on the attack, no matter the score. Even if he’s leading in the third period, “Funky D” can be counted on to continue pressuring his opponent, looking to build on the lead or perhaps execute a risky pin.
“I just don’t feel comfortable with a 1- to 2-point lead,” Dolan said. “I’d rather win the match by a lot of points or a pin rather than sit there and grind out a 1-point match. You never know what the last seconds are going to do. I’ve lost many matches in the last seconds and I’ve won many matches, but I’d be confident with a bigger-point lead.”
It’s a style that could be troublesome to some old-school coaches, but Morrison head coach Tony Wright has come to accept it from Dolan.
“I totally embrace it,” Wright said. “He’s called ‘Funky D’ for a reason. You can’t teach some of the stuff he does. He’s a hard kid to coach sometimes, but he’s a hard kid to prepare for because he doesn’t do conventional things.”
Dolan, the son of ex-Morrison wrestling coach and current athletic director Gregg Dolan, has been around the sport since he was 3. The exception was when he didn’t wrestle as a freshman, in need of a break from the sport.
The all-or-nothing approach to wrestling was not something that was passed down from father to son.
“I know a lot more about my body and what I can do,” Dolan said. “I can give up some points if I’m going to gain bigger points later on in the match. A lot of the time it was taught to me through my dad, telling me what not to do, and I’d tell him I could do it that way. It seems to have worked out.”
Dolan went 31-13 as a sophomore and earned a trip to the state tournament. As a junior, he went 40-12, but had his season end at the Byron Sectional. Of his 40 wins, 23 came via pin.
“He’s got guts of steel,” Wright said. “He’s a bold kid. He’s not afraid to lose, which is why he’s successful. He’s willing to go for it, which is another trait that’s hard to teach. Some kids have that and some don’t.”
That’s not to say Wright hasn’t tried to rein in Dolan just a little bit, when being too aggressive early in matches sometimes results in building big deficits.
“We try to tell him it’s OK to go conservative for a while, work our way into a match, wear the guy out, and then explode with some of the funky stuff,” Wright said. “What we’ve tried to do is build off what he’s good at and be able to capitalize on it, as opposed to forcing things and putting ourselves in bad situations.”
Last season, Dolan was a training partner of Joe Eads, who won a state title at 138 pounds in his own unique manner. Eads would bide his time until an opportunity presented itself to execute a neck wrench, and then he’d pounce.
Dolan doesn’t have a signature move like Eads had. When asked what his specialty was, he cited he was good at the high crotch from a neutral position, and a cradle while on top. The key is to always be on the attack, no matter what – a strategy handed down by former Mustang great Mark McDonnell.
“Mark taught me to be aggressive all of the time,” Dolan said. “He’d shoot for tech falls in the first or second period before anybody could even react. That’s how I’d like to be this year.”
FYI: Has a 71-25 record in 2 years as a varsity starter. … State qualifier as a sophomore. … Nicknamed ‘Funky D’ for unconventional wrestling style.