Centralia High School senior Mykka McAllister’s goal is to wrestle in college. With a limited number of collegiate programs offering the sport in Washington, he’s already warmed up to the idea of moving out of state. A handful of schools have already expressed interested, including Hastings College in Nebraska.
“I actually don’t mind going away for college at all,” McAllister said. “I can definitely see myself going somewhere and getting a fresh start. I want to go to college. I want a scholarship.”
McAllister believes one thing will go a long way in helping him accomplish that.
“A state title would obviously help,” McAllister said. “I need the title.”
The Tigers have had eight wrestlers all time win state wrestling championships with the last coming in 2013 when Kellen Pelzel took home the 152-pound title in the 2A classification.
McAllister plans on being the ninth.
“We believe he’s got a really good shot at being a state champ,” Centralia coach Scott Phillips said. “I think he should have been in the finals last year.”
A year after finishing eighth in the 120-pound weight division as a sophomore, McAllister finished fourth in the classification last year. He opened the 2017 state tournament by making quick work of his first two opponents, defeating Steilacoom’s Zach Rowe (14-5) in the first round before knocking off Clarkston’s Klayten Babino (9-1) in the quarterfinals.
His run towards a state championship came to an end in the semifinals as he lost, 7-1, to eventual runner-up Max Wheeler of White River.
“In that semifinals match he didn’t execute like we planned on,” said Phillips, who placed second in the 148-pound division during his senior year at Centralia in 1996, “but he’s motivated this year because of that.”
McAllister immediately rebounded from the semifinal loss last year to beat Olympic’s Kaylomb Parrish, 3-1, in overtime to secure his place among the state’s top four wrestlers, and lay the foundation for this year.
“I would have rather been in the finals, but I wasn’t dissatisfied with how I did last year,” McAllister said. “I put my best out there, and that’s the push I need this year.”
McAllister closed out 2017 by winning the 132-pound division at the Pat Alexander Invitational at Tumwater High School. He pinned Aberdeen’s Tyler Sophomanichan, the 2A classification’s second-ranked wrestler in the weight division, in the finals to wrap up the title and earn the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler honors in the process.
McAllister opened his senior season by successfully defending his home court by winning the 138-pound division at the Centralia Holiday Classic on Dec. 9. An inch taller with more muscle than last year, he plans to settle into the 126-pound classification once postseason arrives.
“It’s different this year strength-wise. I feel like I can muscle around people more than normal,” McAllister said. “I’ve been lifting quite a bit since last season. Getting stronger was a focus.”
McAllister and the Tigers will close out their 2A Evergreen Conference slate on January 24 when they travel to W.F. West before moving on the District 4 North 2A Sub-Regional tournament, which will be held on February 3 at the NW Subs Hub in Centralia.
The top four placers from sub-regional advance to the Region 1 tournament at Tumwater High School the following week to compete against wrestlers from Cascade, Wesco and Great Saint Helens League.
McAllister will be looking to capture his third regional crown and move on to the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome on February 16-17 where he will attempt to join a select list of Centralia wrestlers and become a three-time state placer.
Joe Amell (1976-78), Jay Brown (1978-80), Pelzel (2011-13) and Kyzer Bailey (2012-14) are the only Tigers to accomplish the feat at the state tournament, which began in 1953.
Unlike the previous two years, however, McAllister knows this season has considerably more weight to it as things progress for the simple reason that it will be his last wearing the Tigers singlet.
“There’s something to lose now. This is the last year, the last shot,” McAllister said. “You definitely feel that every time you step on the mat. You’re always thinking about that in the back of your head. It’s over after this year, but that’s something that’s always pushing me.”