McLain sets Chimacum state wrestling record

Patrick J. Sullivan psullivan@ptleader.com
Posted 2/21/17

Senior Cody McLain (220 pounds) placed third at the state Mat Classic XXIX wrestling tourney, the best finish for a Chimacum High School grappler in the school’s history.

Last year as a junior …

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McLain sets Chimacum state wrestling record

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Senior Cody McLain (220 pounds) placed third at the state Mat Classic XXIX wrestling tourney, the best finish for a Chimacum High School grappler in the school’s history.

Last year as a junior at Port Townsend High School, McLain placed seventh in the same weight class.

Also scoring state tourney points for Chimacum, junior Ryan Caldwell (182) won a match and lost two. It’s the first season Chimacum has been represented by two wrestlers at state.

McLain opened at state Feb. 17 with a 15-9 loss to a Mount Baker wrestler, and facing elimination every time, won two matches that day and three on Saturday to medal. His five-match winning streak started by pinning a Chelan wrestler in 1:32, pinning a Warden wrestler in 2:06, defeating a Freeman competitor 10-3, pinning a Columbia/White Salmon grappler in 1:22 and placing third with an 11-9 overtime win against Jared Boswell of Deer Park.

"It was an inspirational run for him," said coach Steve Grimm. "His back was against the wall from the start. He dug real deep to win those five in a row."

"Big Mac" McLain, 17, said his experience in Tacoma last year definitely served as preparation for this year: the Tacoma Dome's size, the waiting, the rushing out to the mat for actual competition.

"I'm not as nervous because I know what to expect," he said Feb. 16. "It's all a mental game."

In his medal match for third and fourth places, McLain trailed 9-6 in the third period. His rally started with a point for an escape, followed by a two-point takedown to knot the score 9-9, Grimm reported.

"Cody used everything he had to keep the wrestler down and prevent him from winning with a stand-up escape," so the match went into overtime.

"After two days of wrestling and a full season, it was going to come down to one takedown," Grimm noted of the sudden-death extra period.

McLain made a move and grabbed one of his opponent's legs, but was stopped short of the takedown. On his knees, with his opponent above him, "I think it was the realization of all he had been through in his four years of wrestling, and this was his final match. Cody all of a sudden had an extra gear of energy. He picked that leg up and finished the takedown," winning 11-9.

CHIMACUM WRESTLING

Port Townsend High School accepted Chimacum into a cooperative wrestling program in 1993. Some seasons there are one or two Chimacum students who compete, and in many years, none.

The list of Chimacum students to wrestle at state is short: Patrick Monroe placed fourth in 1994, while Michael Young competed at state in 2000, J.J. Black in 2007, and Nick Katsikapes in 2011.

The cooperative program means Chimacum wrestlers score as part of the PT team during the regular season, and count as Chimacum in the postseason. McLain and Caldwell, however, choose to wear the PT team's new two-piece red-and-black uniforms this postseason, instead of reverting to older blue wrestling singlets.

Forty-seven boys' teams were represented at state. Team scoring includes: 1) Granger 190, 2) Colville 185.5, 3) Sultan 119, 4) Deer Park 117.5, 5) Forks 101, 6) Montesano 99.5, 7) Freeman 73.5, 8) Lakeside (9 Mile Falls) 69, 9) Warden 68.5, 10) Kiona-Benton 67, 26) Chimacum 19.5, 40) Port Townsend 4.

See a link to the Class 1A bracket HERE.

CALDWELL'S DEBUT

For Caldwell's debut at state, he opened with a 12-3 loss, won 16-0 and was eliminated after being pinned in 1:20.

Caldwell, 17, has been a football player for Chimacum and also played basketball last season. He turned to wrestling this year in part because his mother knows Grimm from working at East Jefferson Fire Rescue, and she thought it might be something Caldwell would be good at.

"I really wish I would have started sooner," Caldwell said.

Early in the season he relied upon his physical strength, but now has "muscle memory" and knows what moves to pull, and when.

He hopes to entice a few more Chimacum students to wrestle next season.

Coach Grimm noted that this is the first time he's had a first-year wrestler advance to state. "He is so explosive and so strong. He's a sprinter (on the track team) and has quick muscle movement."

Caldwell's brother, Kyle, is an eighth-grader who is also wrestling in the 182-pound bracket. "We look forward to having them both on the team next year," Grimm noted.

PORT TOWNSEND

For Port Townsend at state, senior Jacob Massie (285) went 1-2, while senior Henry Veitenhans (145) and junior Tucker Booth (285) were both 0-2.

Massie won his first match by pin in 1:36, then lost the next two by first-round pins. Veitenhans lost in two decisions, 14-2 and 10-6. Booth lost by pin in two quick matches.

Massie, 18, said "it's a relief" to make state his senior season after illness or injury kept him out of the postseason in past years. Massie weighs about 225 pounds, the low end of the weight class where an opponent may be 285 pounds. Being physical, however, is just part of it.

"If you are not mentally prepared, you are going crack when you get out there," he said.

Booth, 17, is a second-year wrestler who said he was "stoked" to reach the state tourney, and knows the experience would help him next season.

Veitenhans, 16, may be the last PTHS student-athlete wearing a letterman's jacket with a "Redskin" chief's head emblem. As a freshman, his goal was to letter and join the fraternity of Redskin wrestlers.

"I take some pride in that," he said of his letterman's jacket. "I think it's good that the school changed its mascot. Coming in as a freshman, I wanted to be a Redskin wrestler and I knew [the team name] was going to change, and if I didn't letter that year, I wasn't going to have one."

Last season, he broke a leg in practice before district tourney, so reaching the state tourney in 2017 means a lot. He has also competed for two years in track and cross country, and one year of football. By far, he said, "wrestling is the hardest out of any sport," and that's a big reason why turnout is low.

"It's hard to get people to embrace the grind that is part of the program," he said, but well worth it for those who do.

"The work ethic you have to apply in wrestling is something that you will apply in life, that will to push yourself," he said.

Being physical is not enough. "You have to be mentally tough. This is a humbling sport. You can't let the losses get you down."

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