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Tow is better than one | Sports & Recreation

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Tow is better than one
Tow is better than one

By Scott Johnston

A quick look beyond the statistics and past the accomplishments reveals something more, something rare, something possessed by few and desired by many.

Coaches thirst for it, teachers praise it and classmates gravitate toward it.

Union Mine High’s Cody and Sean Tow have it – a quiet confidence, approachability and the innate ability to feather life’s throttle just enough, while maintaining perspective and wisdom well beyond their teenage years.

Slight of build and humble to a fault, the brothers – wrestling champs and football stars – are easily two of the more recognizable figures as they make their way around their El Dorado Hills campus.

Cody, a senior, and Sean, a sophomore, have seen their legacy grow daily, a result no doubt of their legendary athletic accomplishments, as well as their approachable, easy-going attitudes in and out of the classroom.

“They’re very personably people and they’re very popular around campus,” said Tim Brown, Union Mine’s head wrestling coach. “Cody is involved with student government and leadership, both of which he carries off the mat. Both of them are excellent students. They’re both very humble kids.”

Sandwiched between football and wrestling practice, both can be found passing on their passion for sports while coaching youth football and wrestling. They are magnets for not only the next generation of Diamondback athletes, but their parents and coaches too.

“Sometimes when we’re at tournaments,” Brown said, “parents, coaches and referees will strike up a conversation with Cody because he’s such a nice kid and so pleasant to talk to. And with what they’ve gone through, it could have been easy to go the other way.”

In December 2006, Cody and Sean’s father, Randy, died of a heart attack at age 42. In 2008, their mother, Michelle, fell gravely ill with bacterial meningitis, spending a total of 37 days in the hospital, 14 in intensive care, and nearly succumbing to the disease.

Through it all, their mother’s strength and the memory of their father proved to be a powerful driving force for the boys.

“Their mother has a huge influence them,” Brown said. “She has very clear goals and expectations for them. School is No. 1 and anything they commit to doing they’re going to do 100 percent. I think they have a different perspective on things. At the end of the day, they recognize that it is just a sport. It’s not life or death; it’s just a wrestling match. They put a lot of work into it and they want it really bad, but they realize, at the end of the day, that there are more important things in life. They handle everything very well; I wonder how they do it sometimes.”

As one of the top wrestlers in the area, the 5-foot-4, 143-pound Cody is a two-time Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champion (at 119 and 125 pounds) and three-time CIF State Championships top-eight finisher, finishing 6th twice and 7th once. He captured the 130-pound title at Foothill High’s Tim Brown Memorial Tournament, but was upset at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament, falling in the semifinals to Bella Vista’s Shayne Tucker. He finished third and Roseville’s Dylan Jankovich claimed second.

After missing most of the season with a back injury, Sean was third at 140-pounds to claim his spot in the CIF State Championships.

True to form, the brothers credit their success to their mother and staying humble.

“She keeps our heads on straight,” said Cody, who will attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on scholarship next fall.  “We don’t want to go around thinking no one can touch us. She helps us make the right choices; we know if you want to be good, you can’t be going out all night getting in trouble. I have goals, like winning the state championship. That’s what I really want. And after college, I’d like to coach at the college level.”

Barely missing a down during football season, he plays running back, full back and receiver on offense and puts his wrestling skills to good use as a hard-hitting linebacker, often surprising much larger players with his strength and agility. He led the Diamondbacks to the third round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs where they fell to Calaveras High 28-21.

Cody finished the year with 696 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns. He added 33 receptions for 312 yards and four touchdowns while totaling 56 tackles from his linebacker position.

Following in his brother’s footsteps, Sean, who played junior varsity baseball last season and maintains a 4.0 grade-point average, was also among the region’s top wrestlers last season. A back injury suffered during football season kept him off the mat until Feb. 1 against Vista Del Lago. At 5-6 and 157 pounds, he is bigger than his brother and appears primed to equal or better Cody’s accomplishments on the mat. He won the 135-pound Sierra Valley Conference championship and was seventh at the Masters last season.

A two-time middle school state champion, Sean qualified for state (finishing 2-2) at 135 last season, the only freshmen in his weight class to do so.

“Not a lot of freshmen compete an entire season at the varsity level, let alone make it to state,” Brown said. “Medaling at the state meet is a real goal for him and a realistic goal.”

Sean also established himself as one of the area’s elite running backs, grinding out 2,261 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground and nearly 300 receiving. He was also the Diamondbacks’ kicker and at times he filled in at linebacker, making 34 tackles. Together, the brothers combined for five interceptions.

“These past few years, my brother and I have been really close,” Sean said. “The things that have happened in the past few years do motivate me a lot. Everything I do with wrestling and football is for my dad. Sometimes out on the football field, I think, this one’s for you Dad. And my mom has really kept us going in the right direction.”

Competition among the two is healthy, never hurtful. Sean looks to his more experienced brother for guidance in life as well as in athletics.

“Watching Cody and what he’s done here has helped me a lot,” Sean said. “I’ve learned from everything he’s done and he’s always there for me. I take whatever advice I can get. He’s a senior and he’s been through a lot.”

For his part, Cody pushes his brother only so much and is careful to give him space when needed, especially when afternoon practice sessions begin to get a bit too intense.

“They practice every day together,” Brown said. “And there’s been a few times when you could feel the tension rise, they’re brothers. But they’ve always kept it under control and they use it to push each other. They won’t give each other an inch, ever, and they have different styles, so it’s good for them to wrestle each other. They have high expectations and clearly the sky’s the limit for them both.”


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