Siblings Tyson, Jordan and Mariah cheer each other on.
Some families call it roughhousing. Some call it training for college.
Tyson Mills, a junior at Matanzas High School, finished second in the region recently, in the 152-pound weight class. So did his younger brother Jordan, a freshman at Matanzas, in the 160-pound weight class. (Both also play for the high school football team.)
At home, Tyson said, “We’re constantly running into each other in the hallway and starting to wrestle. I’ll grab his wrist and try to do moves on him. If he’s doing homework, I’ll try sneak up from behind and twist his arm and get him in a headlock.”
Does it work?
Jordan, who is the first Matanzas freshman ever to qualify for states, is younger, but he’s stronger.
“I have to try to keep up my older brother dominance,” Tyson said, “but it’s pretty hard with Jordan at this point.”
Tyson’s flexibility and technical proficiency are his advantage. “Tyson is really weird to wrestle,” Jordan said. “He just folds out of everything I put him in.”
Mariah, who is Tyson and Jordan’s seventh-grade sister, is also a wrestler and pinned her first competitor — at the state meet. Her video went viral on the family’s YouTube vlog, Sunshine Mafia, being viewed more than 222,000 times.
Both of the Mills’ parents — Abe and Rachel — are athletic (Abe got college offers for both wrestling and football and eventually played defensive back at Brigham Young University.) But Rachel says their success is the result of hard work.
“I remember years ago, I saw a state wrestler, and he said his secret was, ‘I do extra work outside the gym,’” Rachel Mills recalled. “These boys, I made them run to practice and run home from practice. You have to do more than everybody else. So when they would get to the third period [in a wrestling match], the other guy would be tired, and they would come on strong and were never tired.’”
Tyson lost both of his matches at the Class 2A state tournament; Jordan won once and lost once. Teammate Carter Wilder, also reached the state tournament from Matanzas, in the 106-pound weight class. None placed, but all are motivated to improve for next year.
“The guys that really want to win find ways to do things that are extra,” said coach T.J. Gillin. “The winning happens when the eyes aren’t on you.”