|Kyle Creech during a recent practice. VVN/Travis Guy|
It does not matter what your record is in December, just January.
This is along the lines of what Mingus Union wrestling first-year head coach Tim McKeever said to his group of wrestlers at the end of practice. The meaning behind his statement to the Marauders, do not be discouraged if your record had a few losses on it, as long as you make that push to regionals and state, that is what matters.
With that said, McKeever and his team still want to win. This may be a new chapter for Mingus wrestling, but they still believe in the dominance that Mingus was and will be as they march through the season.
"You always want it to be awesome, you always want to be the best, but we're learning, we're growing and we're getting better everyday," McKeever said. "I'll take where we were in the tournament this weekend and we're just going to use it to build upon. We've got so many young wrestlers."
With one week down in the season, the Marauders have participated in a three-way dual with Monument Valley and Page, and followed that with their first tournament of the season, the Peaks Wrestling Invitational in Flagstaff. While Mingus Union only placed one wrestler at the Peaks Invitational, junior Wyatt Midkiff, the team is already making strides with its new wrestlers.
With the plethora of first-year wrestlers, many have been thrown to the dogs, so to say, as varsity wrestlers. Despite the obvious gap in talent, the Marauders are developing their new wrestlers with a heavy focus on the fundamentals in practice. This is where McKeever has seen the strides in his wrestlers, and he sees what every coach wants from their team, a never-say-die type attitude and aggressiveness.
"Just an aggressiveness," McKeever said. "Good fundamentals as far as stance, shots, just the fundamentals that we've been working on. There was a lot of that stuff that was great and they did a great job. You don't expect a guy wrestling his first match to go out there and beat a guy that's been wrestling for 10 years. They did great, didn't see a lot of quit in them."
The big thing with the young Marauders is that while they know the moves taught to them, they have not been ingrained in their minds to the point where it is automatic.
"They've been taught what to do but its not coming second nature yet," McKeever said. "That's what we need to focus on from now till the beginning of the year when the schedule gets really crazy and when stuff starts to really matter."
At the invitational, Midkiff finished fifth. He went 7-1, losing his lone match by one point to Gila Ridge. All seven of the junior's wins were by pin.
"I was pleased with it," Midkiff said. "... I did pretty well overall. I got all pins and one loss overall, by a point, so I did pretty good."
Junior Kyle Creech had a tougher outing than his teammate. Creech went 4-3 at the tournament with three pins. Creech was pleased with his performance, but knows that there are still things to work on and improve.
"I felt like I did pretty well," Creech said. "There's some areas where I've got to improve, but I know what they are and am working on them."
Senior Dylan Wilbur had a difficult time in Flagstaff. The senior twisted his ankle in a match; causing him to not perform as well as he felt he could.
"I hurt my ankle, so I didn't do as good as I can," Wilbur said. "I should have beat some kids that I did wrestle. I think I went, I wrestled three matches, I had one forfeit, I pinned a kid in eight seconds and I lost to the other two kids by a point each. After that, I did alright, I guess."
With the foot injury being a first for Wilbur, he said that it was "pretty discouraging," but he is taking things easy with it still being early in the season.
Now the Marauders have returned to the mats and are grinding and readying themselves for their next set of duals, this time with Blue Ridge, Sanders and Winslow High Schools on Dec. 11 at Winslow High School.
"Nothing really counts till February," McKeever said. "I mean, they all count and you want to win every time you go out there, but it's about how it is at the end. Its about sectionals and state. So we're just going to take every opportunity to get better."