ODENVILLE — St. Clair County senior Brody Mizzell won the 5A state championship in the 145-pound weight class on Feb. 18, but it’s possible the most important match of his life was his third match of the season.
That match came against the same wrestler he beat in the championship round, Scottsboro’s Josh Draskovic.
Except back at the beginning of the season, Mizzell lost.
“As with losing in anything, you learn more about what you did wrong, and the errors in yourself that you made,” Mizzell said. “Rather than really losing a match to this really strong move.”
That loss to Draskovic paved the way for Mizzell to win the rematch, first at sectionals and then at the state meet, but the St. Clair County senior didn’t learn anything special about his opponent when he lost.
“When I lost to him the first time, I was just in my head,” Mizzell said. “I was frustrating myself. Oh no, I’m doing it again.
“And then after that, I was like, no, can’t be this way. If I want to win a state title, I cannot be in my head.”
Overcoming great fear
Mizzell’s father, Dewayne Mizzell, believes it all started after Brody watched his older brother, Skyler Mizzell, win a state championship in the 220-pound weight class back in 2019.
Dewayne, who serves as a volunteer coach for the team, felt like the external pressure of living up to his brother’s accomplishments increased the pressure on Brody during the seasons that followed, especially when it came time for the postseason.
“Instead of wrestling to win, you wrestle not to lose, or play not to lose, as it were,” Dewayne Mizzell said. “And that is probably the worst thing you can do because it comes from a place of worry and not confidence.”
Brody identified the problem before the season began, but the loss to Draskovic this season served as an important wakeup call.
“You got in your own head,” Brody said. “That's been a problem for me. Learning to conquer literal fear is what I'd call it, learning to conquer fear and learning to not have a lack of self-confidence was pretty important to me. Cause you can't just give up in life.”
Not only did Mizzell win the state championship, but he also finished the season with a record of 39-1.
“I kind of expected this to happen because I had confidence in myself. … “I was ready to just fight it out to the end,” Mizzell said. “Not giving up, which is what mattered most to me. This year is learning not to give up.”
Both Brody and his father believe wrestling for St. Clair County made him a better person.
Overcoming his fear on the mat boosted Brody's confidence in other aspects of his life.
“When I'm having to speak out in class,” Brody Mizzell said. “It's much easier now because it feels like nothing.”
Sticking with it
Brody’s championship probably wouldn’t exist if his brother hadn’t won one first. The St. Clair County senior isn’t sure he’d have stuck with the sport to this point, but his brother just made it look like so much fun when he celebrated the championship as a senior.
“So I was like, I'm going to be a state champion too, and be like him,” Brody said. “But I'm gonna do it my own way and not try and be like a copy of him.”
Now that both brothers went out on top, Brody said it created a special bond. The two are a little closer.
Speaking of family, Brody struggled to find the words to describe the moment he walked over and celebrated his state championship with his father in the moments after his victory.
“The best thing I've ever felt,” Brody said.