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‘Still hungry’

With another state title secured, Mariner High’s Minto and Brady stay ‘focused’ and look forward to nationals

By CJ HADDAD - Associate Sports Editor | Mar 9, 2023

FHSAA 2A State Champions Max Brady, left, and Chris Minto. CJ HADDAD

Reaching the pinnacle of any sport is difficult, especially an individual one, but two local high school wrestlers have been mainstays atop their weight classes in Florida since they arrived on the scene.

Mariner High School’s Chris Minto and Max Brady both captured FHSAA 2A State Championships last week in Kissimmee. For Minto, a senior, the title is his third straight. Brady, a sophomore, is now two-for-two when it comes to collecting championships as the best in his weight class in the state.

Of completing the three-peat, Minto said, “I feel relieved, but I’m still hungry. At the end of the month, we have nationals, so I’m trying to prepare for that. But overall, I feel great.”

Brady said, “It feels good knowing what I accomplished, but it’s just a stepping stone because I expected it.”

Minto finished the season with a remarkable 54-1 record in the 160-pound weight class, while Brady went 53-1 in the 126-pound division. Both will test their mettle in Virginia Beach at the National Championships at the end of the month.

For Minto, wrestling is in his blood. His older brother, Christian, won three state championships at Mariner and another older brother also competed in the sport.

“I think I just kind of fell in love with the sport based off of (my brothers) success, and made my own goals.”

He said what makes him successful is: “Coaches, family, teammates.”

Brady, who arrived at Mariner as a freshman after his family moved to Cape Coral from Iowa, entered the sport in the first grade when a childhood friend invited him to a practice of sorts for youngsters who might want to get into the sport. Funny enough, his friend never even showed up.

“But I did, and I liked it, so I kept going,” Brady said.

Minto said while he wishes he could have been four-time state champion, he knows Brady will carry the torch moving forward.

“That’s his job now,” Minto said.

It’s a task Brady takes seriously.

“It’s a priority, pretty much,” Brady said. “It’s a must. I have to do it. It’s just being focused and getting the job done. Once it’s done, I can be happy for a few days, but then it’s college time.”

Minto is ready to compete at the collegiate Division 1 level with goals to win a national title, with his future announcement coming soon.

First, a driven Minto and Brady will have to see how they stack up against the best the country has to offer.

“After states, we went back to training the day after,” Minto said. “I’m definitely hungry to get a national title. I have butterflies about it.”

Brady said, “I want to win (a national title) really bad. I feel if I don’t win, it kind of takes away from winning a state title. I feel that I have to show out to prove that I’m the best not just in the state, but on a national level. I’m more excited than nervous.”

Mariner wrestling coach Clay French said Minto and Brady are exemplary student-athletes that have shown just what hard work and dedication can result in.

“I’m very proud of them. They work hard every day and set high goals for themselves and hold themselves accountable,” French said. “They’re both really talented and tough, definitely tough.”

As for what sets them apart from the average high school wrestler, French said, “They have each other to work with. That’s huge. When practices are tough, they don’t let the other one slide or get off easy. They hold each other accountable and it goes a long way.”

When it comes to nationals and what French expects out of his top guys, he said, “I expect them to wrestle hard and wrestle fast. Hopefully win a lot of matches and things fall in their favor. I’m looking forward to seeing them be challenged a bit more, push themselves, and persevere through some tough situations. Either way, it’s back to the drawing board, back to work. We’ll look at it, reflect, make adjustments and move forward. That’s the name of the game, to keep getting better.”

— Connect with Associate Sports Editor on Twitter: @haddad_cj