Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Marshwood freshman wrestling beyond his years

Marshwood wrestler reflects back on 51-win season with Hawks

Foster's Daily Democrat
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — Cody Hughes admits he is just having fun, which could mean for a lot of unhappy wrestling opponents by the time he graduates in 2015.

Oh well.

Hughes, just a freshman, played an instrumental role in Marshwood High School's Class A state championship season, the first in program history, and the fifth title overall. He went 51-2, was unbeaten in Maine, and was named the Class A tournament's outstanding wrestler after cruising to the 138-pound title.

He followed that up with a 5-2 mark last month at the New England championships in Providence, R.I., placing fifth at 138.

Cody is also a legacy wrestler, the son of Todd Hughes, the Marshwood Middle School wrestling coach. Todd is a 1990 Marshwood graduate, wrestling on some of veteran coach Matt Rix's first teams, including the program's first state championship squad in 1989 in Class B. His career record is 114-14-1.

"He's done his homework," said Rix, whose teams won four Class B titles from 1989 to 1999 before moving up to Class A in 2000. "He just doesn't do it for three months. He's really ramped it up in the offseason, and Todd's done a nice job with him."

The rangy 5-foot-10 freshman certainly wrestled beyond his years. Hughes came into high school with a talented freshman class. Rix's early concerns were quickly erased.

"I was concerned he would come in and think he was the top dog," Rix said. "It was the opposite. He was very humble. He did everything I asked of him. He was a real team player."

He was also very good. So good, in fact, that Rix named him the team's outstanding wrestler, an honor typically reserved for a junior or senior.

"He's so down to earth," Rix added. "I hope he stays that way."

To look at Hughes and his dad, you certainly wonder a little bit as Cody is 5-10 and his dad is 5-7.

"I get my height from my mom's side," said Cody with a smile. "They're all basketball players and they're all about 6-feet. I just fall into my mom's side."

Hughes is even keeled, not prone to getting too high or too low, and he's both smart and relentless on the mat.

"I try to go out there and win," he said. "I try to go for the pin, that helps the team the most. I got out there to get the most points I can and get after it. I just try to push the pace and keep going at the person."

Rix was impressed with Hughes' wrestling acumen and his ability to stay out of trouble.

"He knows when to get out and back off," Rix said. "His biggest strength is he's very smart wrestling on the mat. He's come up against stronger kids, but he hasn't put himself into a position where he was getting overpowered."

Todd said Hughe's lanky build gives him a reach that works to his advantage.

"He's definitely more technical than most of the freshman that we see," Todd said. "He's been able to adapt and grow with coach Rix's help in his offseason wrestling."

"I wrestle nationally in the offseason, so I know when it's close I play it safe in some situations or go hard," Hughes added. "I try not to put myself in bad situations."

And, of course, there's his cool demeanor. Hughes never seems to let the moment get to him.

"I try to be consistent," he said. "I keep cool. I don't try to get too angry. I'm just having fun."

"Being in some of the big tournaments in the past, it's helped with his emotions," Todd said. "He knows that it's great to win; it's great to be excited. But you don't need to rub it in anybody's face. You can be humble about it."

It's an approach that has served Hughes well so far.

Late last month, Hughes wrestled at the NHSCA Freshman Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va., and went 5-2 and placed fourth at 138.

He has his eye on college and one of his goals is to wrestle at the Division I level.

"He has the ability to be a Division I wrestler," Todd said, "to win the New Englands, win in nationals. He's just got to focus and have fun with it, that's the main thing."

The father-son relationship is a good one, working well where that is not always the case.

"It's pretty easy most of the time," Hughes said.

"Except when I take you down, you get mad," his dad added with a laugh. "But it's definitely getting harder for me to wrestle him."