When Pryce Seely moved to Richland before his eighth grade year, he was looking for a sport he could succeed in.
Considering how much he liked physical fitness, his uncle, Dustin Sloan, suggested he try wrestling.
Seely did and it was a match made in heaven. The Richland High senior is headed to state for a second consecutive year, and is hoping to at least finish in the top four at Mat Classic XXVI beginning today at the Tacoma Dome.
“I just like getting in shape and I like the coaching staff here,” Seely said. “It is just a natural thing for me. I can’t really explain it. It is something I look forward to every year.”
Sloan won a state title at 148 pounds in 1991 for Othello High, and Seely is hoping to follow in his footsteps this weekend.
“I hope to do the best I can,” said Seely, who wrestles at 138 pounds. “My main focus is going for the gold. I’m just going to leave it all out there. This is it.”
Richland High coach Scott Surplus thinks Seely has a shot, assuming Seely wrestles to the best of his ability.
“He had a couple of losses earlier that he learned from,” Surplus said. “It is his average thing. He has done it all four years. He does really good at the beginning and then has some bumps around the Christmas break time, but he’s a postseason wrestler. Has been since he was a freshman.”
Seely was one win away from making state as a sophomore, and took eighth as a junior.
“I was happy that I placed,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I could’ve done better, but there were some simple mistakes I messed up on and that is where they caught me. That is what happens when you get to the bigger tournaments. I’ve been working to get a lot better than eighth at state.”
Hard work is one Seely’s defining characteristics. He views his sport as a year-round venture, not something to just show up for in the winter months. He used to play football and track and field, but quit those after his freshman year to concentrate on wrestling. He also does freestyle wrestling in the summer.
“Everyone knows there are kids that work and kids that just kind of show up to practice and go through the motions,” Surplus said. “He is one of those kids that shows up and works hard. Stays in shape, lifts, eats right and does it year round. Look at him, he is like seven percent body fat.”
Seely is 32-5 on the season and of those five losses he has the chance to avenge one of them. Central Valley’s Blake Beard pinned him in 3 minutes in the regional final at Pasco.
“I tried doing a move I wasn’t comfortable with and he caught me and stuck me from there,” Seely said. “I just look forward to the next time I see him, and I won’t make that same mistake again.”
If Seely can reach the state final Saturday, he could have a rematch with Beard.
“Everything was good in that match, except for the one thing he did,” Surplus said. “He stepped behind a kid and the kid loaded him up on his hips. He knew it when he walked off the mat. One little scramble thing, and the kid (Beard) is a very good wrestler.”
Even if Seely doesn’t make the final, though, his uncle, and the rest of his family, will be proud of him.
“One thing about Pryce, the best thing I think,” Sloan said. “He has the best sportsmanship I’ve ever seen in a wrestler. Whether he wins or loses. He is just a nice guy.”