OREM — The fact that Park City's Justus Minardi is even on the wrestling mats at all during the 3A state tournament is a small miracle.
During the first weeks of the wrestling season, Minardi was experiencing a lot of pain in his back. He went to the doctor and got the bad news that he had four different stress fractures in his vertebrae and that his season was probably over.
Minardi never believed it.
Instead, he rested, fasted and prayed. After a few weeks, Minardi decided he was ready to wrestle again. Despite the doctor saying he wasn't healed, he thought it was time.
He's never looked back.
Minardi is now in the 3A semifinals at 130 pounds following a 6-5 win over Zach Harris of Delta in which he earned an escape point with one second remaining.
"I owe it all to God," said Minardi. "I was so tired, but I just prayed in my head that I could find the strength, and He gave it to me. I had been waiting to try that move the whole match, and that was the perfect time to try it — it worked."
While their stories may not be as dramatic, there are plenty of other wrestlers finding different motivation for their successes.
"Wrestling makes me better at all the other sports I play," said Hurricane's Jordan Prince, a 119-pounder who finished sixth last year. "It teaches you how to be self disciplined and how to be mentally tough. It also makes you be in really good shape."
"I try to stay focused on the moment and not get too caught up in thinking about what comes next," said Wasatch's 112-pounder, Morgan Sweat, a sophomore who finished third last season. "If you start thinking ahead, that's when you lose. I really want to just focus on the next match and not worry about anything else."
The team competition is shaping up exactly as anticipated with Delta running away with the team title at 151.5 points.
"Coach (Josh) Wright has taught me a ton and I think that I am just a better wrestler now," said Delta's Christian Hatch, a sophomore that finished third last season and is into the semifinals. "All our guys are even better this year. We are wrestling well and just want to keep it rolling."
The true battle is for second as Wasatch (93 points) and Morgan (88.5) are neck and neck.
"We had a couple of guys lose that we didn't think would, but overall, we are doing all right as a team," said Sweat. "We just need to go out and keep wrestling our best."
Hurricane (67), Canyon View (65) and Carbon (51.5) round out the top six teams.
The wrestling action continues today at 10 a.m. with the consolation rounds and wraps up with the championships scheduled for 6:45 in the evening.