Two years away from the mat was more than enough for Mykka McAllister.
“I felt a huge part of me was missing,” McAllister said about his decision to return to the sport. “Since graduating I have been working. I worked a few jobs and finally a few months ago I decided to go to college to finish my wrestling career and to get a degree in business.”
McAllister brings a strong resume to the Chokers program. He closed out his high school wrestling career by finishing fourth at the Class 2A state tournament in the 132-pound weight division in 2018. It marked the second consecutive year he placed fourth at state. He also finished fourth at 120 pounds in 2017 to go with an eighth-place finish at 120 as a sophomore in 2016.
“I realized this was my last year I would be eligible to go to college and wrestle and it is one of my favorite things to do,” McAllister said. “The one-on-one competition and the amount of technique to learn and master is what I feel drives me to want to continue in wrestling.”
McAllister has set his goals high for the upcoming wrestling season at Grays Harbor.
“I intend on winning a national title for Grays Harbor and being recruited to a Division 1 school,” said McAllister, who was also recruited by Highlands University, a Division II school in New Mexico. “I decided Grays Harbor would be an easier transition back into wrestling and going to school being closer to home and not having as steep competition at first.”
According to McAllister, one of the main factors in choosing the Chokers was head coach Kevin Pine, who also coaches the Grays Harbor College women’s team. Prior to arriving in Aberdeen, Pine was the head coach at Central Washington University where he had 20 All-Americans from 1995-2001. As a wrestler, he was a former state high school champion, a four-time Canadian National placer in college at Simon Fraser University and won his first Veteran Freestyle World Championships in 2018.
Pine, who will be in his first season with the Grays Harbor men, led the Grays Harbor College women’s team to the first-ever Women’s Northwest Conference Championship and a third-place finish at the NCWA National Championships last year with the team having nine All American wrestlers on its roster with two individual national champions.
“Kevin Pine is the most impressive part of the program,” McAllister said. “He’s dedicated to giving the wrestlers, male and female, their best shot at winning the national title by bringing them tough competition and plenty of matches. I admire that and am excited to get into the room and start preparing for the coming season.”
McAllister’s journey to Grays Harbor started after he reached out to his former high school wrestling coach, Scott Phillips.
“(I gave him) my information to let anyone he knew I was interested in wrestling again and within an hour a few colleges had contacted me, including New Mexico Highlands and Highline College,” McAllister said. “After speaking with coach Pine, we met at the school so he could show me around the campus and talk about practices and tournaments.”
The meeting sealed the deal for McAllister, who proceeded to sign his letter of intent that day.
“I am happy to be able to represent my state in college and looking forward to my family and friends being able to see me compete again,” McAllister said.
McAllister will have at least one familiar face in the Grays Harbor mat room as one of his former Centralia High School teammates, Tristan Dickey, also signed on to wrestle at Grays Harbor College.
“I am excited for us both to get back on the mat and start competing again,” McAllister said.
The Grays Harbor College men’s wrestling program placed first at the Northwest Conference Championships and second at the NCWA National Championships during the 2019-2020 season. The Chokers received Northwest Conference Championships from Desmond Bowers (165 pounds), Andy Gonzales (174), Siona Hal (184), Michael Garrison (197), Octavio Alejandre (235) and Mervyn Penniston-John (285).
Penniston-John went on to win a NWCA national championships, while Alejandre placed second at nationals.