Another One… 22-Year-Old Duluth Football Player Dies Suddenly from Cardiac Arrest During Team Workout

by J Pelkey
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The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) is grieving the sudden death of senior defensive lineman Reed Ryan, who tragically passed away on Tuesday, November 28th, at the age of 22.

Ryan’s unexpected passing occurred after he suffered cardiac arrest during a team workout on November 21st.

Despite the immediate and intensive efforts of the athletic training team and the dedicated care provided by the ICU staff at St. Mary’s-Duluth, Ryan’s condition did not improve.

His obituary indicates that Ryan succumbed to a cardiac arrest triggered by a “previously undetected genetic heart condition” after a team workout.

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“Reed went into cardiac arrest on November 21st following a football team workout in the weight-room doing what he loved. This was the result of an undetected genetic heart condition and a large, loving heart. The athletic training team was tremendous in their efforts to immediately initiate CPR and regain his pulse,” his obituary reads.

According to the school’s press release, “Ryan was part of a Bulldog defensive unit that allowed a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) low average of 293.9 yards per game.”

University of Minnesota Duluth football senior defensive lineman Reed Ryan passed away on Tuesday (Nov. 28) at Essentia Health in Duluth, Minn. at the age of 22. An excellent student over the course of his academic career, Ryan was enrolled in the UMD Labovitz School of Business and Economics as a double major in Marketing and Professional Sales.

“Our staff and players are devastated about Reed’s passing,” said UMD head football coach Curt Wiese. “Reed aspired to be better every day at whatever task was at hand. He helped bring out the best in others with his positive attitude, infectious smile, and genuine care for the people around him. We were fortunate to have Reed on our team, and he made our program, our department, and our community a better place in a short period of time. Reed will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live on forever. He was the epitome of a UMD Bulldog, and what we can all aspire to be. To his family, thank you for allowing us to be part of his inspiring young life. Reed was a Bulldog through and through.”

This past season with the Bulldogs, Ryan recorded seven tackles and assisted another for a total of eight tackles in nine games. With two of those tackles for a total loss of 10 yards, Ryan earned one sack against Northern State on Sept. 9 and posted a collegiate career-best three tackles at Minot State on Oct. 21. Ryan was part of a Bulldog defensive unit that allowed a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) low average of 293.9 yards per game.

“Reed had a positive impact on so many and we are deeply saddened by his passing,” said UMD director of athletics Forrest Karr. “Reed was a kind, caring and thoughtful young man who enjoyed bringing people together. He grew up in my hometown and was beloved by those who knew him in Waunakee, Fargo, Duluth, and beyond. Our thoughts and prayers are with Reed’s family and friends during this time of sorrow. We are grateful for everyone who is supporting Reed’s teammates and our staff members.”

Ryan was a native of Waunakee, Wis. and a 2019 graduate of Waunakee High School. The recipient of the 2018 Tim Krumrie Award, given annually to the most outstanding high school senior defensive lineman in Wisconsin, Ryan was also named the 2018 Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) Large Schools Defensive Player of the Year. Over his high school career, Waunakee H.S. went 45-2 with a Division 2 State Championship in 2017. Ryan’s career high school totals included 147 total tackles, 63 tackles for loss and 34 sacks. A four-year starter in wrestling with more than 100 career wins, Ryan earned a state runner-up finish as a senior after he placed fifth at the Division 1 state wrestling meet as a junior.

After high school, Ryan spent four seasons with the North Dakota State University football program, where he was a part of two NCAA Division I AA FCS National Championships (2019, 2021). A three-time Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award winner (2020, 2021, 2022), Ryan was also a four-time Missouri Valley Football Conference Honor Roll member (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022).

In celebration of Reed’s life, a memorial wake will be held on Friday night, Dec. 1, from 3:00 -7:00 p.m. at Blackhawk Church on 9620 Brader Way in Middleton, Wis. His funeral will be held Saturday, Dec. 2 with a short wake at 10:00 a.m., followed by an 11:00 a.m. service at Blackhawk Church.

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