Paired off in the cramped wrestling room on the second floor at Minneapolis Henry, many of the 10 Minneapolis City Conference wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament's individual brackets were prepping Tuesday.

They came from across the city, along with coaches and teammates, to practice together in a show of solidarity. They are wrestlers, first and foremost, doing what wrestlers do: work extraordinarily hard. They chose to do that as a group because of what they represent.

"This is big for Minneapolis wrestling," Henry head coach Anthony Minus said. "It's really important for all of Minneapolis to work together because we're so divided by schools but we come together through sport."

Wrestling in the Minneapolis City Conference is a long way from the well-funded, booster-club-driven programs that dot the metro. At Henry, there is no extensive trophy case, no banners trumpeting past successes.

What the wrestlers have to inspire them are a dozen or so enlarged photos on the wall of former wrestlers who accomplished things greater than expected, with a special row reserved for those who used wrestling as a steppingstone to college.

They also have pride, in themselves, in their city, in being wrestlers who scaled tall odds.

And they have Peter Yang.

Yang's role at Henry is officially assistant coach. In reality, he is the driving force of the program. He was hesitant to talk about it, preferring to remain outside of the spotlight.

"This is what we do. We're wrestlers," he said. "We don't need attention. We just want to wrestle."

Minus spoke for Yang: "Peter is always instructing, always coaching, always willing to work with other wrestlers. In wrestling, it's about showing up and having discipline. It can change your life. And guys like Peter show it every day."

Yang's younger brother Lewis is the embodiment of the determination of the city wrestlers. Lewis qualified for the state meet as a freshman, sacrificed his sophomore season to COVID-19, then caught COVID again as a junior, coming back with six matches left in the season, just enough to qualify for the state meet.

Lewis, healthy all season for the first time in three years, earned his third state tournament trip with a runner-up finish at 138 pounds in Class 2A, Section 5.

"So this is his big year," said Peter, who introduced Lewis to wrestling as a fifth-grader and has been guiding him ever since. "He's got that determination. COVID almost robbed him two years in a row. And our father has always wanted him to be a soccer player. He's not physically the strongest, but he's stubborn. And he's determined. He would rather his shoulder pop than give up two points."

Lewis said he will use his loss in the section finals, to Payton Herbst of Totino-Grace, as motivation.

"I thought I was just going to go in and win," he said. "It'll help me be ready in the [state] tournament."

The other qualifiers from Minneapolis public schools are Adam Her of Henry at 106, Vicente Lopez Marsh of Edison at 113, Cyrus Jones of Edison at 145, Tremayne Graham of Edison and Stephon Rendo of North at 152, Nate Odren of South at 182, Lamar Sloan of Edison at 195, Cashmere Hamilton-Grunau of North at 220 and Lamarcus Osborne of North at 285.

Peter Yang was a state tournament qualifier in 2005, after winning his section in his senior year at Minneapolis South. Also in the Henry wrestling room was his opponent in those section finals 17 years ago, Terrance Russell, now an assistant at Edison.

Coaches like Yang and Russell make up for things wrestlers at other schools take for granted, such as a pre-tournament hotel stays. That, Peter Yang said, is coming out of coaches' pockets. "We just really don't have the help," he said, shaking his head. "And the fundraising is not there."

This was the second year that the Minneapolis and St. Paul conferences staged a wrestling meet to conclude the season, pitting the two conferences. Minneapolis won this year.

"You could feel the energy," Minus said. "The guys were cheering for each other and celebrating. And that's what really brought this Minneapolis piece together. It galvanized it."

Correction: This story was corrected to say that 10 wrestlers from Minneapolis public schools qualified for the state meet.