Even the flu could not stop the Mingus Union wrestling team from going to the Doc Wright Invitational and placing in the top-7, leading the team to a No. 22 finish.
The wrestling team caught the bug going around Cottonwood and had to cancel a multi-dual on Wednesday, Jan. 15. Head coach Tim McKeever had to focus on the upcoming tournament and make sure his wrestlers were as healthy as they could be. The Doc Wright was the last tournament until sectionals, meaning one of the last chances for the Marauders to impress and earn higher seeds for the postseason.
"Our kids were so sick," McKeever said. "... There was four out of the nine that didn't practice last week because they had the flu, or whatever it was, and they were miserable, they missed days of school, so what they did was pretty darn amazing ... The night before we went up there, Dylan was super sick, still had a fever and we did not think he was going to go. Ends up going and taking fifth. Overall I was pretty stinking excited."
In the end, three wrestlers placed and all but one earned at least one victory. Dylan Wilbur (160 lbs.), Wyatt Midkiff (220 lbs.) and Cordell McKeever (heavyweight) were the three placers for the Marauders. Wilbur and Midkiff each finished fifth. Wilbur gutted out a 6-4 decision and Midkiff eeked out his own 3-2 win.
"I was tired the whole time," Wilbur said. "It was pretty aggravating how tired I was ... I was kind of ... a little disappointed. I knew I could do better but it was alright, I was happy with it."
The Marauders, after a lackluster showing at the Mile High Tournament, did not receiver the best seeds at Doc Wright. All of the student-athletes were wrestling the No. 1 or 2 seed in their second match. That resulted in a trip down to the consolation bracket for everyone. Despite this, there many Marauders were still able to find some success.
"Those are our most experienced wrestlers," McKeever said. "Those are our heavier weighted guys so I have high-expectations for those three. With Wyatt getting sick, he was getting sick during the matches, he just did a great job. Really, really toughed it out. All three of those boys did a great job with being sick."
The wrestler that really stood out to the coaching staff was first-year wrestler Mikey Joneas. Joneas is a freshman and has been steadily improving with each passing match. In the dual prior to Doc Wright, the Marauders were wrestling Monument Valley. Joneas lost a 6-5 decision to Monument Valley and 10 days later, dominated him in a 14-2 win.
"I'm just so proud of Mikey," McKeever said. "Losing to the Monument Valley kid last week in the dual and just came out and wrecked the kid 14-2. Those are the kind of things you want to see as a coach. Even when you do struggle, or you wrestle a bad match, that when you do get a chance to go back out and face a guy again, that you improve. So from getting beat to almost teching the guy is a huge improvement. I couldn't be happier with that young man. He's just done so great in his first year wrestling and he's just done really, really well."
The Marauders now shift their focus to two more multi-duals, followed by a week of R&R and then jump into sectionals.
"I think I have a really good chance at winning," Wilbur said. "I've got to keep working hard in practice, but I think I have a really good chance."