TACOMA — One can see the inspiration. It can almost be felt.
Sultan junior Cody Deason, despite not wrestling since he was a seventh grader, turned in a magical run of a lifetime at Mat Classic XXXII in the Tacoma Dome.
No doubt his twin brother, Tyler, was proud watching from the stands Saturday as Cody scored a pin to stay alive and claim fourth place at 220 pounds in Class 1A.
It was a here’s-to-you moment for the 17-year-old Cody, just 21 minutes the junior to his twin, Tyler. Tyler took second at 220 last season, but a health scare left him sidelined this season.
A summer diagnosis of the rare Ewing Sarcoma bone cancer in Tyler’s right foot led to its amputation Nov. 6. That left Cody carrying the wrestling torch for the family after four years away from the sport that his twin grew to love.
“I would’ve felt guilty if I didn’t wrestle,” Cody said. “This is for other people around Sultan. This is not just for the family name. It’s for people who put in a lot of time for Tyler and (older brother) Anthony for wrestling. This was a goal, but I didn’t expect it.”
Deason’s hopes of title run ended in the semifinals at the hands of defending state champion Gage Cook of Granger by pin in 32 seconds. Cook topped Tyler Deason in last season’s 220 final, 8-2.
Cody rallied and pinned Zillah’s Cristobal Alejandre in 47 seconds to wrestle for third place, but he fell 4-0 to Nooksack Valley’s Levi Harlan to settle for fourth. Cody drew from his twin’s positive outlook despite his fight against cancer, which will require two more chemotherapy treatments.
“He’s not going to let this put him down,” said Cody, who went over tactics of opponents that his brother faced last season. “He’s always in high spirits. I know how much wrestling makes (Tyler) happy. It’s his No. 1 passion. I think for him to have something to look forward to by watching me, just drives him.”
Cody says his brother vows to get fitted for a prosthesis and return to football and wrestling as a senior next year. Cody looks forward to his brother lining up at right tackle on offense while he is at left tackle.
“That doesn’t surprise me at all that he said that,” Cody said. “From the start, I expected he was going to play sports next year. I still have both of my feet, so I really can’t relate to what he’s going through.
“He will be playing football and wrestling. He will be doing what he wants, just like before.”
The twins’ father and Turks’ assistant coach, Matt Deason, has only seen unwavering belief from Tyler, who is still getting around on crutches.
“I didn’t know it was possible for anybody to be that positive,” said Matt Deason. “It’s unbelievable. I mean, he’s still an annoying teenager, and he’s set in his ways. But his outlook on things and how when he talks to coaches that he doesn’t want them to treat him any differently, makes me very proud of him.
“He’s ready to start working out.”
Match of the night
Federal Way sophomore Kayla McKinley-Johnson pulled off a stunning 11-9 sudden-victory overtime win over two-time state champion Taylor Wilson of Hanford in the girls 100-pound title bout.
McKinley-Johnson (35-0) trailed 8-3 entering the third and final period but rallied and scored the winning takedown quickly in OT.
“Oh my gosh, I was stressing out,” said McKinley-Johnson of the big deficit. “I had to remind myself that I had put the time in, working all year.”
Teammate London Houston (38-1) took the 130-pound girls title to become a two-time state champion as a junior. Houston handled Granger’s Viktorya Torres 10-2 in the final.
- Jahvius Leui, a senior transfer from Kennedy Catholic, gave Chief Sealth its first state champion in wrestling with a pin in the 285-pound title bout in Class 3A. Leui stuck Meadowdale senior Alex Krueger in 4:45 in the final and became just the second state champion from public school in Seattle, following Dominic Damon of Nathan Hale last year.
- Finally, the Redmond wrestling program has a state champion. Molly Williams (40-1) was the first to secure a crown — girls or boys — with a 12-1 demolition of Othello’s Iyazely Barraza in the girls 115 final. Williams finished seventh at 105 as a freshman, fifth at 110 as a sophomore and third at 115 as a junior.
- Marysville-Pilchuck freshman Alivia White won the girls 190-pound crown by pin to follow in her brother Cayden’s footsteps to make them the first siblings to score state titles on the same night at Mat Classic since 2010. Cayden won the boys 182-pound title in Class 3A with a 5-1 decision over Lakes’ Jaedon Hall.