Over the last four weeks, Cam Mingee’s wrestling resolve has been tested.
And he has passed with flying colors, saving to be a survivor.
On Friday morning at the Giant Center in Hershey, the Littlestown sophomore was unable to produce more consolation bracket magic, however, as he was eliminated from the PIAA Wrestling Championships. A 4-1 setback against Gaven Suica of Burgettstown spelled the end of Mingee’s first state tournament experience.
“It’s awesome. It’s like nothing I’ve ever been to,” said Mingee, moments after the Class 2A consolation loss at 126 pounds. “Next year I’ll be ready.”
Mingee took a step forward this season, qualifying for states after coming up short at the regional tournament a year ago. Bolt head coach Andrew Polashuk attributed his budding star’s success to among other things, mental toughness.
“Begin able to deal with setbacks, a lot of it is the mental side of wrestling,” said Polashuk. “It’s a long, long season. Our practice room is empty for the last two weeks, it’s just Cam and one other guy. It’s that mental side of it, staying disciplined and trusting the process, everything along those lines.”
Mingee’s road to Hershey wasn’t lined with gold, rather resiliency. He had to work through the consolations in the Section 1, District 3 and Southeast Region tournaments to punch his state ticket, posting respective finishes of fourth, fifth and fifth. Finding himself in the loser’s bracket on Friday morning, Mingee needed two wins to secure a state medal. Standing in the way of that was Suica (31-8), a returning state qualifier.
Suica, working primarily off tie-ups on Mingee’s right side, struck for a takedown at the 1:10 mark of the second period. Mingee (33-11) escaped with 28 seconds remaining in the period to trail 2-1 after three minutes.
Mingee chose neutral to start the third, as he’s done through much of the postseason.
“I feel more confident scoring from there than any other position,” he said of the decision to not take down.
Suica went back to his ties, working off a short-drag situation for a takedown with 1:07 remaining. Mingee was unable to close the gap from there, losing 4-1.
“We’re solid on our feet but we couldn’t clear ties and get deep enough on the legs,” said Polashuk of the offensive struggle. “We had to force some shots from further away.”
Mingee agreed, admitting his preference to wrestle with a little breathing room.
“I’m used to working from space on my feet, I don’t really like to tie up much,” he said. “Anytime I get someone who ties I struggle a little bit.”
Mingee said the biggest improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons was an increase in strength, something he said, ‘helped with pretty much everything.’
He plans to focus on getting better off the bottom for next season in hopes of returning to the big stage in Hershey, where every bout is sure to be a mental and physical test.
“We knew he was good,” said Polashuk of Suica. “At this level everyone is good. It’s a tough one.”