By: Kyle Condrey
Wrestling- a competitive world sport that requires athleticism and strength. This sport takes us back to the basics of competition using nothing but calloused palms and mental technique, man competing against Man, where white knuckles and flush faces, gritted teeth and burning muscles stand victorious over the one that stands in your way.
Although taken out of the limelight by many ball-centered sports in our US contemporary culture, within wrestling, only those with pure adoration for these brute men of stature remaining standing.
Poquoson, Virginia a small city with a population of just over 12,000 inhabitants is on the map for their legacy as a traditional and cultural fishing community. There is only one local high school to attend if you live within city ordinance because of it’s County size, but city name. The walls of Poquoson High School, which were built in 1910, are filled with just fewer than 900 students creating a smaller pool for each sport. Wrestling has historically been one of the school’s stronger sports laying claim to 9 state high school championships with 81 individual state titles. and because of that, always draws in those were serious about the sport.
The success of the wrestling team has remained somewhat average until now. Patrick McCormick (pictured above: left), only a sophomore at Poquoson High School just returned from the VHSL state championship where he won the state championship for the second year in a row. When talking with Patrick days before states, I asked him “Scale of 1 to 10 are you even woried about it?” [Referring to being worried about his odds for winning and 10 being most worried] His only reply was, “10.” This nervousness was caused by a fear of whom he would be competing against revealing “…Yeah he is one of the hardest I’ve competed against.” Xander Whitehurst out of Christiansburg High School in Christiansburg, Virginia was a part of adding to the school’s 15 straight team titles, an impressive feat and any reason to cause anxiety when that is the competition. The more Patrick talked he told me that his search for an undefeated record of 50-0 last season was brought to a halt by only one loss, to Whitehurst bringing his final record for the season to 49-1. His record of 48-2 this season was also tainted by Whitehurst losing to him twice in the regular season but then defeating him in the state championship. Although he is able to taint perfect conference records he doesn’t produce when it truly matters.
Despite the imperfect record he continues to prevail and as we continue to talk I understood why. A large portion of his life has been about wrestling starting at the early age of four years old. In an almost prophetic Patrick told me of when he was younger “ In kindergarten, I wrote a paper about how I wanted to become the first four-time state champ from Poquoson.” The history of Patrick’s passion doesn’t stop there instead it goes back to his dad who is no stranger to state championship rings himself winning three consecutive years in a row from 1983-85 and then continuing on to wrestle at The University of Virginia. Not only did Mike McCormick [Patrick’s Dad] compete but he also started refereeing while attending the University. When hopes of becoming a world-class wrestler fell he wanted to remain near to the sport and worked his way up to refereeing NCAA matches and tournaments leading to his induction to the National wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011 joining his father who is also inducted in 1994, where they still remain the only father and son to both being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Patrick also hopes to follow the footsteps of his dad and possibly compete for UVA, which is one of his top choices alongside Virginia Tech and Old Dominion University, all of which are interested in Patrick and his future at their schools.
It doesn’t seem as if there is much that will cause Patrick to stop from pursuing State championships for his last two years of high school and becoming the first in his weight class to collect four consecutive State wins.
When describing his reasons for being drawn to the sport he spoke plainly about it as if the sport had almost chosen him, somewhat pressed find his own reasoning deducting that “I like winning” “and the “competition of it too.” The visceral feeling is that there was not another option when it came to wrestling claiming that “My size fits it” and “I can’t blame anyone else for mistakes made, only myself in competition.” He boldly accepts the challenge of relying on his own ability and skill to reach his goals as opposed to some team sports where relying on teammates is necessary.
He’s glad to be done with practice he jests, “I can finally eat again”—cutting weight requires mental strength and discipline watching every bite he takes. Although food and sleep maintenance is a rigorous discipline within the life of a successful wrestler this sport is too familiar of a motion for Patrick McCormick to cut out of his identity.
A long historical train drives Patrick’s pursuit and remaining career on the mat unmovable to those who are in the way.