Sports

Kentwood junior Cassidy Meyers finds inspiration en route to state title

Kentwood junior Cassidy Meyers after winning the 118 pound girls wrestling final at Mat Classic on Feb. 18.  - Photo courtesy of Steve Bagelt
Kentwood junior Cassidy Meyers after winning the 118 pound girls wrestling final at Mat Classic on Feb. 18.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Steve Bagelt

Kentwood junior Cassidy Meyers was inspired at Mat Classic XXIV.

Inspired by her older sister, Jolene, who won a state wrestling title four years ago and is currently serving in the United States Marine Corps.

“She really looks up to her older sister,” said her father, Steve Meyers, who is also her coach at Kentwood.

And she was inspired by Shelby Lee, her best friend and wrestling sparring partner who attended Kentridge, who was killed in a car wreck on Dec. 28, 2010.

“She is one of the reasons I wanted to go out there and kick butt,” Cassidy said.

With that inspiration in the back of her mind, Cassidy had a goal: make it through the semi-finals.

“To get past that semi-final was a big relief,” she said.

Then Cassidy went one step further Feb. 18 and won the whole thing.

Cassidy, who is the fourth of six children with three older sisters and two younger brothers, began wrestling when she was 6 years old.

“My brothers were wrestling,” she said. “I thought it was really cool. I told my dad I wanted to join in. We always did things together.”

As a freshman she finished sixth in the girls tournament at the state championships at the Tacoma Dome. A year ago she finished fourth.

“This year I didn’t really feel like it was state,” Cassidy said. “I kind of had a short season.”

Cassidy finished the season with a 26-3 record. Typically she wrestles closer to 40 matches so her mindset was a bit different coming into the state championship tournament.

And she had different results than in years past.

This year at the end of Mat Classic, the official held up her hand when the 118 pound final was over, signifying she was the winner and a state champion just like her sister.

“I look up to her in so many ways,” Cassidy said of Jolene, who is four years older. “She doesn’t believe it, but, she’s a big inspiration.”

Cassidy may not even have wrestled in high school were it not for Jolene, her father Steve, said.

“Coming into high school, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to wrestle,” Steve said. “Then Jolene won.”

Going into the final against Taylor Graham of Burlington Edison, Cassidy said, she didn’t know much about her opponent other than she had a few moves coupled with significant upper body strength.

“All I knew was that it was a new day, a new match and if I wanted it, I had to go after it,” she said. “She was hard to turn. Most of the match It was me trying to turn her and not succeeding due to her upper body strength.”

Cassidy was able to get a 4-1 lead pretty quickly though the escape point she gave up was on a mistake early on when she tried a move she hadn’t executed in a match before.

Despite Graham’s strength, Cassidy was able to hold off her opponent as she worked from the bottom position in the third period, so she could hold onto her lead and the state crown.

That she won a state title, however, didn’t sink in right away.

“It actually didn’t hit me until the next morning,” she said. “Because it didn’t feel like state, it felt like another match. I woke up the next morning and went, ‘I’m a state champion. I did it.’”

Not a surprise, though, given that Cassidy probably had other things on her mind.

She plays premier level soccer and is also a member of the Kentwood girls soccer team.

Soccer is something all of the Meyers kids have done. Cassidy’s mom played in college.

“I’ve been playing soccer all my life,” she said. “I’m pretty sure my mom put a soccer ball at my feet as soon as I started walking. I know I’m going to have a soccer ball at my feet because it’s in my blood.”

She is a member of the Kent Crusaders Rugby team, a more recent passion than wrestling or soccer, but one she has taken to quite quickly.

“It sucked me in deep,” Cassidy said. “I really fell for it. It was the intensity of soccer but you could hit people and play with your hands. If you’re an athlete you can be turned into a rugby player. And the form is exactly the same as a double leg take down.”

In fact, Cassidy has got a date with the United States Women’s U-20 National team tryouts this weekend in Atlanta.

Rugby has also given her a sense of having a second family.

“I hope I can take rugby as far as I can,” she said.

On top of that, she is an excellent student, maintaing a 3.75 grade point average.

“She’s a good kid,” Steve said. “She’s very athletic. She’s got good grades. She does what she’s asked. She’s doing good things with her life right now.”

During the course of this wrestling season, both Steve and Cassidy agree she matured in all the ways she needed to, which set her up to succeed at Mat Classic.

“For the most part, she is pretty focused,” Steve said. “I’d like to see her intensity at workouts be better. It’s been up and down the past four years. She’s grown a lot in the past two years.”

As far as her technique on the mat, Steve said, Cassidy is rock solid.

A conversation during the first tournament of the season, which is where she got most of her matches, Steve said he had a conversation with his youngest daughter.

It was important, he told her, to focus and listen to her coaches so they could help her stay calm during a match as well as to look to them for guidance.

It must have worked as Cassidy went on to have a strong season and went into Mat Classic the top ranked girl in her weight class in the state, according to Washington Wrestling Report.

Now that she knows how to win a state title, Cassidy would like to go one step further than her older sister, Jolene, and win a second one.

Steve said Cassidy will have a target on her back heading into next season.

“Next year what I would like to see from her is come out and finish (high school wrestling) strong,” he said. “It’s easier to reach the top than to stay on top. One of the things we’ve talked about is everything you want, you’ve got to earn it. Win or lose, I’ll be happy if she gives 100 percent.”

Cassidy, who her dad described as quiet, is laid back when she’s off the mat but is focused and serious on it during a match.

And there’s no doubt she will continue to be inspired by Jolene and Shelby Lee.

“It’s my goal to take state (again),” Cassidy said. “I just have to take it to the next level practicing and try to stay healthy.”

Jolene, who is stationed in the Phillipines, heard the news about her younger sisters’ triumph through other family members.

“I know that she’s proud that I’m following in her footsteps and holding up her honor,” Cassidy said. “She let let me know how proud of me she is no matter what beforehand.”

And Cassidy doesn’t see herself as in her sister’s shadow.

“I see it as a challenge,” Cassidy said. “I strive to be as strong and as mentally prepared as my sister.”

Someday, long after she’s done wrestling, playing soccer and rugby, Cassidy plans to be an entrepreneur.

“I want to hopefully go to Arizona State and major in business management,” she said. “Then go to culinary school for pastry then open my own bakery. Baking is my release.”

Whatever Cassidy does in the future she has plenty of inspiration to draw on.

 

 

 

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