Weighing in at about 70 pounds, 13-year-old Brandon Meikel doesn't look like much of a fighter. And yet, he calmly strolls out onto the wrestling mat and gives headaches to any opponent he matches up against.
"I started wrestling seven or eight years ago," Meikel said. "I think my favorite thing about it is the aggressiveness."
Meikel has been racking up the accolades. He is a member of the Utah School Boy National Team for 13- to 14-year-olds. Team Utah competed in a tournament in Indianapolis two weeks ago, where Meikel went undefeated in the Greco-Roman style, becoming a Greco-Roman All-American. Overall, he finished the tournament with a record of 14-1 and he was named to the all-tournament team. That effort also earned Meikel WrestleUtah.com's Athlete of the Week award.
Last weekend at the Western Regional in Idaho, Meikel continued his impressive run. He took first place in the Greco-Roman discipline and in the freestyle discipline. For that performance, Meikel was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler. He concluded the season by competing at the Kids National Championships in Orem earlier this week.
It's not surprising that wrestling is such a breeze for Meikel. Compared with everything else he has faced in his life, wrestling doesn't seem so hard.
"He has always been the smallest kid in everything he has done," Meikel's mother, Melissa, said.
In addition to his small stature, his premature birth brought other health issues. When Miekel was born, his stomach could not hold food. He had to undergo a surgery that essentially wrapped the bottom of his stomach around his esophagus so he could eat.
Surgeries and medication are a way of life. While surgery isn't necessary anymore, Meikel still has to take medication. He is still trying to bulk up so that he isn't at a size disadvantage against every wrestler he faces.
The key for Meikel, in life and in wrestling, has been the way he approaches difficulty.
"His best quality is how he takes losses," Melissa Meikel said. "He doesn't get discouraged. He always tries to learn from the losses. He sees loss as an opportunity to become better."
Although Meikel is only 13 years old, he has some remarkable goals that keep him working hard. He hopes to wrestle competitively in high school and beyond.
"One day I want to wrestle in college, for the Naval Academy," Meikel said. "After that, I want to be a Navy SEAL."
Some people might say Meikel is too small for anything like that, but he has been proving those people wrong his whole life.
Magna wrestler gaining accolades
Magna's Brandon Meikel, 13, was named Outstanding Wrestler in last week's Western Regional in Idaho.
Meikel, who was born premature, has competed in wrestling tournaments in Virginia, Indiana and many other places around the country.
WrestleUtah.com named Meikel athlete of the week for his performance in Indianapolis two weeks ago.