Miners pin down success on the mat
Park City High School knows that when they attend a wrestling tournament they will probably not win first place, or even third for that matter. But this year, the team has a lot to be excited about, and that is making all of the difference.
The brightest spot may be the man heading up the team. Before becoming Park City High School’s assistant vice principal, Dave McNaughton spent years leading the nationally-ranked and highly-regarded Wasatch High School wrestling squad. After making the move to the Park City school last year, he took a year off, but has returned to the sport he loves.
"He’s brought a lot to the program," said Park City athletic director and new assistant wrestling coach Doug Payne.
Joining them is Zach McManus, a newcomer to the area. The triumvirate is committed to making the most of this year and building the program.
"We’ve got a good thing going," Payne said.
This year 19 boys decided to join the team, which is very promising Payne said. Without the same longtime development programs like that of its neighbors in Heber, Kamas and Coalville, Park City has always had more challenges fielding a strong wrestling squad. They are still without one weight class at 103 pounds, but Payne says things are looking good for the team.
On Thursday, the team headed to the Salt Lake Valley for the Granger Quad Meet against Granger, East and county rival, the Oakley School and was able to beat Oakley.
"We match up pretty well with Oakley," said Payne, who explained that the private school on the east side of Summit County also has trouble filling all of its weight classes.
The team then headed to Price for the weekend for the Carbon Tournament. The Miners wrestled nine out of 11 teams. Park City managed to only beat Grand County, and had to endure two forfeits and lost 12 points at Carbon because of the 103-pound spot and an injury at the 135-pound class. Still, the loses didn’t overshadow the success of the weekend.
Perhaps the most exciting element for Park City is the emergence of Doug Eaton. In both stature and skill, the heavyweight senior is a force to be reckoned with. Eaton has been on the team in previous years, but this year looks to be his most promising, Payne said. Perhaps it’s his success he had as a lineman on the football team this year or the pressure of his final year in high school, but Eaton has thus far put on an impressive show at every meet.
At the Carbon Tournament, he walked away with every award possible, including a first-ever overall first place, a most-pins-in-least-time award and recognition as the Most Valuable Wrestler in the upper weight divisions.
"I think football helped him build his strength and quickness and confidence," Payne said.
A bit smaller, but just as powerful, Park City’s Justus Minardi, a sophomore, also received recognition after taking third place in the 112-pound weight class after going 7-2 in the tournament.
"To take third in a tournament at his age is really good," Payne said.
Even though the rest of the team didn’t place, Payne said that all of the Miners performed well. He says there are as many as five guys on the team who are on the verge on winning.
"All the guys are wrestling well," Payne said. "They lost this time, put left with a wealth of experience. It’s not all about winning. Now they can see the progress they’re making."
The team has a packed preseason to give the team plenty of opportunities for improvement. According to Payne, because Region 10 only has four teams that wrestle, getting a lot of contacts early on is very important.
The Miners will be back on the mat this Wednesday when they host Ogden in the Park City High School gym at 6 p.m. and then head to Heber over the weekend for the Wasatch Tournament. One-hundred and thirty-five pounder Luke Coleman should return this week. Payne said that even when the team takes on tough opponents, like they will this weekend, he is still excited for another opportunity for the team to wrestle and improve.
"It’s been good," Payne said. "We’re really pumped about it."
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