ADAIR VILLAGE — Cody Manzi hopes to leave his imprint on the Santiam Christian High wrestling program when he’s done after this weekend’s state championships.

The senior has been the cornerstone of the program his entire career. Winning an OSAA 3A title in the 195-pound weight class would be a fitting way to go out.

Manzi is seeded first in his class, coming off his fourth straight district title, and is 15-0 this season. He won a state title as a sophomore at 189 pounds and wants another one.

“I’m looking forward to finishing out this season with a bang,” Manzi said. “I’ve had a fun time at Santiam, and I’ve been very successful. It would be the icing on the cake. The first state title was my goal since seventh grade. I’ve accomplished it, but now it’s adding to that.”

Manzi leads three other Eagles into Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Session I begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday and wrestling begins again at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Finals are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

“He’s the one everyone has to beat to win,” coach Joe Pearson said. “He’s by far the winningest wrestler at Santiam Christian. He’s broken every record here.”

Manzi increased his focus and intensity this week leading up to the state tournament. He knows this is his last time on the mat. For all of Manzi’s success, he had some offers to wrestle at the collegiate level but he has other ideas.

He plans to enroll at Central Oregon Community College in Bend to become a firefighter and paramedic.

“I have this feeling that it’s time for this chapter in my life to close, and it’s time to move on to a new chapter,” Manzi said. “It will be difficult but I’m ready for the transition.”

Manzi has a 91-12 career record. He went 23-1 last season at 182 pounds with the only loss coming on a decision in the state finals.

His freshman season was the least productive at 27-9 and a fourth-place finish at state at 171 pounds. That motivated him to come back stronger his sophomore season with a 26-2 record and a state title at 182.

“Sophomore year was the turning point,” Manzi said. “My goal was just to make it to the finals. Three-quarters through the match I realized I could win this thing. That’s when it turned on. That’s when it hit me I can be an elite wrestler if I put in the extra time.”

Manzi was always a hard worker. He grew up on a dairy farm near Monmouth and now works summers on a seed farm. His father, Robert, instilled the idea that you work each day until the job is done.

That carried over well into wrestling when he started in third grade. He learned his technique and refined his skills early. As a freshman at SC he added a weight training program.

“He’s gifted and very strong,” Pearson said. “He’s also one of the most dedicated workers I’ve seen. He pushes himself so hard. He elevated every one.”

While Manzi wrestles at a heavier weight, Pearson is impressed with his conditioning and agility. The Eagles begin practice with a long run up and down the stairs in the gym and Manzi won’t let the smaller, quicker wrestlers beat him.

Manzi naturally developed into the team leader. He not only leads by example, he motivates.

The Eagles also send No. 2 Tanner Butler (152), No. 4 Riley Hills (182) and Michael Armour (170) into the state tournament. That’s the most for the program, Pearson said.

“I’ve seen the ability in a bunch of kids and I’ve been pushing some of them,” Manzi said. “My goal this year was the leave the team in a better shape than it was when I came here.”

Cliff Kirkpatrick covers Oregon State sports for the Gazette-Times. He can be reached at cliff.kirkpatrick@lee.net.

 

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