Cy Hicks walked into Tumwater High School his freshman year as a heavyweight wrestler.
He was 275 pounds then, wrestling opponents who were older, bigger and stronger. Still, he walked out of his first Mat Classic with a fifth-place finish in Class 2A.
“That’s not heard of,” Tumwater coach Tony Prentice said. “And he didn’t do it because he knew any technique. He just didn’t like to lose.”
Three years later, with two more podium finishes in the 285-pound weight class under his belt — including a third-place finish as a sophomore, and a heavyweight title a season ago as a junior — Hicks has the same mentality.
The Tumwater senior walks into the Tacoma Dome for Mat Classic on Friday morning, his final high school tournament, with an undefeated record this season, and back-to-back titles in reach.
“My main objective this tournament is to treat it like another tournament,” Hicks said. “Not to treat it as the last one, but like it’s just another stepping stone.
“I just feel excited that I get this opportunity again. I’m happy to be up here. I’m happy my season is continuing.”
Despite battling injuries and sickness this season, Hicks is still the presumptive favorite in his bracket.
He is also considered the best heavyweight wrestler in the state — in any classification — according to Washington Wrestling Report, and has been all season.
If he leaves Tacoma with a second title, he will be just the third wrestler in Tumwater’s history to win back-to-back state titles.
Riley Prentice, Tony Prentice’s son, won two at 160 pounds between 2011-12. Randy Wollen won three consecutive titles between 1975-77 at 108 and 129 pounds.
“He’s one of the exemplary athletes who’s willing to do anything,” Tony Prentice said of Hicks.
And he tends to do it quietly.
Hicks, a 6-foot-3, two-way lineman for the T-Birds in football, was also named the 2A Evergreen Conference MVP his final season.
He’s was a two-time Olympian All-Area selection in football, and helped the T-Birds reach the state title game twice in his four-year career.
In the fall, he’s signed to join College of Idaho’s football program as an interior offensive lineman.
“If you look at Cy, he’s got three tackles in a game, so he doesn’t really stand out,” said Prentice, who is also an assistant on Tumwater’s football staff.
“Until you watch the film and realize that he destroys everybody and everything up front.”
Hicks is the same in wrestling, Prentice says. His technique has improved, and he relies less on strength alone. But his drive is what yields so much success.
“He doesn’t complain. He works hard,” Prentice said. “He makes everyone else work hard, and he doesn’t accept it when they don’t.”
“He’s left a big mark,” said Caden Hicks, Cy’s younger brother who took sixth at 220 pounds last season as a sophomore.
“For sports, and the way the community looks at him, they see him as a leader. He’s been a leader ever since his freshman year.”
Cy Hicks hopes the legacy he leaves at Tumwater is one of leadership. He said he hopes younger wrestlers will feel empowered to find their passion in the sport, just as he did.
“I think a good leader is a leader that leads people without people knowing they’ve been led,” Hicks said.
Caden Hicks and Prentice agree that is one of the most important qualities Cy Hicks has brought to Tumwater athletics, and he will be missed when he wraps up his wrestling career this weekend.
“I really want to slow down and take it all in that this is the last week I get to wrestle with my brother,” Caden Hicks said. “We’ve been wrestling together since I was 4 and he was 5. We’ve always been on the mat together.”
Prentice said he hopes Cy Hicks enjoys his final trip to Mat Classic, and just wrestles his best as his high school career comes to a close.
“I knew there would be a time when I’d come to the end of my road,” Cy Hicks said. “I’ll probably reflect when I’m done, but right now I have to keep the same (focused) mentality.”