Other than wrestling, only hunting and fishing can compete for Cody Miller’s affections.
He sees similarities in the sports. Like wrestling, he’s won a fishing tournament. And, Miller said, hunting requires patience.
“Sometimes you have to be patient on the mat,” Miller said.
Deer Park’s senior 152-pounder’s patience – and dedication – has already produced three medals at the State 2A tournament during Mat Classic in Tacoma.
This weekend he’ll seek a third straight finals appearance. He won an individual title last year while helping the Stags to their first team championship.
Miller is one of six returning Deer Park state placers trying to make it two in a row during Friday and Saturday’s Tacoma Dome extravaganza.
“It was really good when we got it the first time,” Miller said of last year’s breakthrough. “We were all pretty excited.”
Deer Park and Miller, the Great Northern League MVP, have been working hard in their quests to repeat.
Coach Matt Jorgensen said Miller is the best wrestler he’s coached since taking over the job. The two have been together since middle school and Miller says Jorgensen is the type of person you work hard for, not only as a coach but a friend.
Jorgensen returns the compliment.
“Cody’s always been business-like and very unassuming,” Jorgensen said. “He never misses a practice, stays late shadow wrestling and drilling by himself, and he works with the underclassmen. He’s not a vocal leader, but doesn’t have to be. The example he sets is how a real pro does it. When he won the state championship, he barely put his arm in the air.”
Miller, the oldest of five brothers – who all wrestle – and a sister has been singular in his dedication to wrestling.
“Wrestling is pretty much year-around,” he said. “I usually go to more than one camp, go to nationals and wrestle freestyle and Greco when I can,” he said.
Nationals haven’t been his strong point, his style more conducive to the high school and collegiate form of the sport. Miller is 107-24 during a four-year career that has included eighth-, second- and first-place state finishes.
He said he always has enjoyed the practice part of his sport. A loss in an eighth-grade match motivated him once in high school.
“My goal was to place as a freshman and I was so pleased with eighth … I should have raised the bar,” he said.
Finishing second as a sophomore was disappointing, but it provided incentive for last year’s individual and team state titles.
Among this year’s accomplishments was a championship at the Pacific Coast Tournament championship in Vancouver, Wash., and a second straight finals appearance in the Rocky Mountain Rumble in Orem, Utah.
“That meet (in Orem) pushes you out of your element, wrestling kids who don’t always have the same styles as kids up here,” he said. “And it makes regional and state seem like a trip down the road.”
As for hunting and fishing, Miller calls them “my next big thing.”
He’s hunted deer and elk, fished streams and the deep sea, once winning $400 in a ling cod tournament out of Westport, Wash.
“I entered it and got lucky,” Miller said. “I didn’t even try to catch anything.”
He and his grandfather hunt a secret location in the Cascades where he said he’s pretty much guaranteed an elk, if he can get a tag.
The lure of the outdoors has him leaning toward trying to wrestle in college at Montana or Colorado.
Another state title, by keeping his head and wrestling smart this weekend, would fulfill his high school career, he said.
“It would be the achievement of a goal set for a long time,” Miller said. “I wanted to be a three-time state champion and didn’t make it, so this would the next best thing.”