Gateway: Sports

With a wrestling family to push him, Peninsula’s Casey on the right track

Peninsula High School wrestler Isaac Casey is one of the team’s top wrestlers.
Peninsula High School wrestler Isaac Casey is one of the team’s top wrestlers. phaley@thenewstribune.com

It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility if you walked into the Casey home, to find Isaac Casey wrestling with his younger brothers or father.

Wrestling, it seems, is in the Casey family’s blood.

The proof is on the wrestling mat at their home on the Key Peninsula, and Isaac, a junior at Peninsula High, has no problem throwing down from time to time with his five younger siblings.

“Nolan (he’s the second oldest) is a sophomore,” Casey said. “We’ve been wrestling since he was 4 and I was 5. We’re usually all wrestling each other.”

That includes patriarch Brett, with mom Leanne making sure the wrestling doesn’t resemble a WWE match. The family consists of Emmett, Luke, Clara and Alice — the last three are adopted — with Nolan wrestling varsity this season and is already looking to be another up-and-comer.

Casey said the reason for adoption was a simple one for the family.

“(Brett and Leanne) love God and it’s a way to help someone, and they wanted to do it,” Casey said of his parents.

Having a home full of wrestling children makes it easier to get time on the mat.

Motivation comes naturally to the eldest Casey sibling. Isaac qualified for Mat Classic as a sophomore last season but didn’t place. It wasn’t his best performance of the season, and his finish left a bitter taste in his mouth, he said.

His ultimate goal would be to stand on top of the podium at the Tacoma Dome in February.

“I want to win Mat Classic this year,” Casey said, adding it’s a reasonable and realistic goal. “No excuses going (in), and I shouldn’t settle for less than to get to the top.”

Peninsula wrestling coach Mark Nickels doesn’t think it’s out of Casey’s reach.

Nickels said the 170-pounder, who is ranked No. 3 in his class by Washington Wrestling Report, said Casey has developed into quite a leader. He was voted a team captain for the second season.

“He’s always been a kid who likes to get in and battle,” Nickels said. “He doesn’t shy away from hard work. Initially, he did that quietly. Between the success he’s had in football, and having wrestling, it’s built his confidence.”

Nickels added Casey isn’t a vocal leader, but he’s taking the initiative and keeping the younger wrestlers in line.

“He’s a nice role model for them,” he said.

What he’s good at is grinding. Casey won’t strictly overpower an opponent, nor will he dazzle them with fast moves and finesse. He will leave his opponent knowing he was in a fight, Nickels said.

“He’ll move you around and shake you like a bull shark,” he said. “It’s not always pretty.”

That suits Casey just fine.

“I think I’ve learned to calm down, but still be more violent with my moves and use more technique,” said Casey, who added he is still developing as a wrestler and finding that line between all power and all finesse.

“Instead of power, power, power, use the power to set up the finesse,” he said.

That “power” mindset comes from football, where Casey plays middle linebacker for the Seahawks. Casey enjoys playing linebacker because he can be so aggressive, but considers himself a wrestler first.

“I’m having a good year so far,” he said. “I see areas where I can improve. But I also see strides where I’ve improved in the offseason.”

Casey just wants those improvements to continue and lead to the top of the pack and a state championship.

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