Three days before a post-season meet, the Kingsburg High wrestlers jumped rope at a furious pace. Clack-clack-clack was the rhythmic sound of the ropes hitting the mat as coach Bryce Hammond put the Vikings through their paces.
“One more minute,” Hammond told his charges. “Push it.”
The sweat, pain and agony is all worth it, according to 220-pounder Ty Muxlow, a senior with Type 1 diabetes who will compete March 3-4 in the CIF-State state meet in Bakersfield.
“I like the mental part – how strategic it is,” said Muxlow, whose white T-shirt was drenched in sweat after the tough workout. “You try to move your opponent in a certain direction to set up your shots. It’s like a chess game, but more physical.”
Muxlow finished first at the Sierra-Sequoia divisional meet 1 ½ weeks ago at Sierra Pacific High. Last week, he managed a seventh-place finish at the CIF-Masters Meet in Clovis to qualify for state for a third time.
Required equipment at state for Muxlow will be a sensor he carries to gauge his blood sugar and a pump to send insulin into his bloodstream should he need it.
When asked if his malady is a “hassle,” Muxlow laughed.
“To say it’s a hassle is a huge understatement, but it’s a lifestyle, and I’ve adjusted to it,” he said.
About 1.25 million Americans have Type 1 Diabetes, and an estimated 40,000 will be newly diagnosed each year in the U.S., according to Diabetes.com.
Andy Muxlow, a Kingsburg farmer, is proud of how his son has dealt with the affliction.
“He’s handled it really well,” he said. “He found out about it in junior high, and it’s a life-changing event, especially for a teenager. He’s trusted in God and Jesus Christ has given him strength.”
The Muxlows are deeply religious and attend the Grace Church of the Valley in Kingsburg, a non-denominational Christian church.
Type 1 diabetes, according to WebMD.com, “happens when your immune system destroys cells in your pancreas called beta cells.”
Beta cells make insulin and damage to them from Type 1 Diabetes throws the process off. Glucose doesn’t move into your cells because there’s no insulin, said the website. It builds up in your blood and your cells starve, causing high blood sugar.
High blood sugar can cause a myriad of symptoms, including dehydration, weight loss and diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that can be life-threatening if not treated right away.
However, armed with his sensor and pump and always keenly listening to what his body is telling him, Muxlow has survived. In fact, he’s thrived.
Not only is he a champion wrestler, but he was a three-year letter winner as a linebacker and tight end on the varsity football team (he averaged a team-leading 8.6 tackles per game last season) and he also plays tennis. As if all that’s not enough, he has a 4.0 grade-point average and enjoys riding horses on his family’s farm, as well as water skiing, wakeboarding, snowboarding and hunting.
In fact, it was on his way to a hunting trip in Colorado in the seventh grade that Muxlow first felt the effects of diabetes.
“We were driving there and we had to stop like 18 times so I could go to the bathroom,” said Muxlow, talking about a symptom of the untreated disease. “My uncle was mad because he didn’t understand why I needed to go to the bathroom 18 times.”
Soon after, the diagnosis was made and Muxlow has lived with it ever since. Like the opponents he so routinely vanquishes, diabetes has been no match for the twelfth-grader.
Managing the disease takes discipline, though. Ice cream and cookies are out, and Muxlow only partakes in the orange juice and other fruit drinks he relishes in small portions.
Hammond, after observing his star wrestler’s habits and work ethic for the past four years, is not surprised by his ability to overcome adversity.
“Like most wrestlers, I think Ty realizes that nobody cares what injury you might have or what excuses you have for not being successful,” he said. “People aren’t going to look back years from now and see an asterisk by someone’s name for why they didn’t win. You have to work to be successful and he understands that.”