COTTONWOOD - In a demonstration of solidarity, the Mingus wrestling team shaved their heads at Monday's practice as they gear up for the sectional and state tournaments later this week and next week.
Wrestlers Spencer and Wyatt Midkiff shaved their heads over the weekend with their father, Brian, because he's about to lose all his hair from cancer treatments.
In one of Brian's blog posts from Jan. 24 he wrote, "with the new treatment I will lose my hair, but I WILL not let cancer take my hair. I will be shaving it off this weekend after church. I will be the one who decides when my hair is gone, not cancer."
Teammates on the wrestling team followed suit Monday.
Most of the Mingus varsity team had a break in competition for the last two weeks to rest up and get healthy for their sectional at Winslow HS this weekend. The top five wrestlers from each weight class at sectional make the state tournament.
Last year Mingus qualified 11. This year they're hoping for at least that many, but could send as many as 13.
"Our guys have been focused over the last week and a half. They've had some time, they feel better, rejuvenated, and I think they're just rearing to go. By Thursday they'll be champin' at the bit to get on the mats," said Mingus head coach Klint McKean.
They should also be inspired by the performance Wyatt Midkiff put on at the freshman only state tournament hosted at Queen Creek High School over the weekend.
Mingus sent nine wrestlers to the freshman state tournament. Of those nine, six placed. Wyatt Midkiff earned first at 182, as well as Jordan Bramblett who won at 106.
Midkiff aggressively won his final with a quick pin, and that's how he won throughout the tournament.
The freshman only tournament used to be hosted at Mingus, but then it went to Hamilton, and now it's at Queen Creek. It happens wherever Tom Wokasch coaches, and this year 30 teams from all the divisions sent wrestlers to the tourney.
It's a good preview for how things will shake out in wrestling over the next few years; a lot of times the wrestlers who win and place at the freshman only state tournament go on to become state champions and placers. Mingus' strong showing bodes well for the future of Mingus wrestling.
But the seniors on the Mingus team need to win now; it's their last chance. Many Marauder wrestlers have the potential to be state champions, and for them the upcoming competitions culminate countless hours of dedication and prep time.
Thunderbird has another strong team this year, and Division III has many talented wrestlers. For Mingus to have the best chance as a team they need every wrestler they have to score them points at the state tournament.
Qualifying 13 wrestlers from a tough section would be a good start to a title run.