Sun Sports Contributor
VIRGINIA – It started as a way for him to get out his ‘pent up’ energy, but 14 year old Tyler Rice has turned wrestling from a hobby, into a way of life.
Weighing in at 230 pounds, the eighth grader from Norwich is quite the formidable force on the mat, proving his intimidating stature is not just for show.
Rice is coming off of the biggest accomplishment of his young wrestling career to date, winning a NHSCA National Middle School Championship. On his way to securing the title, Rice won all of his matches by pinning his opponents.
Rice said that going into the Tournament, his mindset never changed.
“I went into this like everything else, just one match at a time,” said Rice.
In the finals of the Tournament, held in the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Rice overcame an Arizona State Champion, Nathaniel Deasey. Rice would secure the championship match with a pin over Deasey at just 2:32.
“I went into (the match) like most others,” said Rice. “I didn’t know much about him prior to that, but it didn’t bother me. I made some mistakes on my feet. He has a nice inside trip that I couldn’t defend but I came out on top on the mat. He was really strong but wrestling varsity this past year gave me an advantage, since I was mostly up against junior and seniors.”
This isn’t the first time that Rice has shown his superiority. His list of achievements include three NYWAY State Championships, a NUWAY national championship and a North East Nationals American Crown Series National Championship.
Rice explained that his love of wrestling comes from his family.
“The feeling that I get when I get my hand raised is what keeps me coming back. It is only me out there so all my hard work shows,” said Rice.
Regarding his future plans, Rice said, “I am looking to win MAWA in three weeks. I have been a finalist for the past two years. I also want to work hard this summer and fall to get ready for my freshman year.”
He said that his ultimate goal is to eventually win a New York State Section IV Championship, as well as three New York State Championships before going to a Division I school to continue wrestling.
The future certainly looks bright for Rice. He has recently been approached by Wyoming Seminary, a powerhouse wrestling school, as well as been invited to be a member of the New York State National Freestyle and Greco team that will travel to Indiana this June.
Throughout all of the success in his career thus far, Rice has not forgotten who has helped him reach the pinnacle he is at today.
“My mom is always supportive on and off the mat,” said Rice. “My dad, step dad and grandpa; All my coaches from the start till now, and my practice partners; they have really made me who I am today.”
Rice also thanked his friends and the community for their continued support and encouragement.
Anyone interested in helping the Rice family offset some of Tyler’s travel expenses, there will be a ‘create and sip’ fundraiser, hosted by Tabitha Eccleston on May 12, at the Artist Pallet, beginning at 6 p.m. To reserve a spot for the event or to obtain more information, you can call 607-373-1732.