TACOMA Anthony and Isaiah Barrera are brothers in arm bars.
The talented Othello wrestlers are 106-pounders on the Huskies squad, both sitting in the semifinals of the Class 2A portion of Mat Classic XXV at the Tacoma Dome.
But competing in the same weight class hasnt created a heated sibling rivalry for the pair, who are just a year apart. Rather, it has formed a unique bond.
It feels awesome, said Anthony, a senior, because hes good as well.
But therein lies the conundrum: Theyre both good, theyre both at the same weight, and they both keep running into each other at state.
Last year, they both qualified for the Class 2A tournament, and their tourney experience took a cruel twist.
The pair were slated to face off at the end of the first day. The winner would go on to wrestle the following day and earn a state medal, but the loser would be out.
Rather than battle it out on the mat, Isaiah defaulted to his big brother.
It was pretty tough, Isaiah recalled Friday morning after cruising to a first-round win. But I knew my brother could do better than me, and I wanted him to place.
When the kids were young, Isaiah had the advantage despite giving up a year.
He always put a pounding on me when we were young, Anthony said, noting that the circumstances changed when they got into middle school and bigger brother put on a few pounds.
Since then, the two have avoided mat confrontations.
Im not going to put a pounding on him, Anthony said. Hes my brother.
As fate would have it, the brothers are slated to wrestle each other in todays semifinals.
Anthony, the favorite to win the title, scored a pin and a technical fall in his two matches Friday. Isaiah, ranked in the top five all season, had a 17-5 major decision and a pin.
So whats the call this year?
Ill forfeit against him, Isaiah said. My goal is top three.
Ill take first, Anthony added, and hell take third.
w Nerves? What nerves: Twenty-four mats, wall-to-wall wrestlers and thousands of fans in the stands.
Little can prepare wrestlers for the cacophony of noise and electricity in the atmosphere for six simultaneous state tournaments.
One thing that helps, though, is having previously gone through the wringer.
Last year was my first (state) tournament, and I had that little nervousness my first match, said Chiawana senior Clayton Smith, who this year rolled into the 145-pound semifinals. I was new to state. This year, Im not nervous at all. Im ready. I want that state championship.
Smith, among the favorites to win his bracket, has come to the same understanding as Kamiakin senior two-time placer and fellow semifinalist Harley Kolp: Experience is key.
My memories of the dome, Kolp recalled of his first trip two years ago as a sophomore, it was so big and so bright.
Now, the 132-pounder said, its a business trip, not a sight-seeing tour.
One state rookie who didnt seem to suffer from nerves too much was Richland junior 138-pounder Pryce Seely, who scored a 12-2 win in his first state match.
I was nervous before, said Seely, who lost in the quarters but .... But when I got on the mat, no nerves.
Seely lost in the quarterfinals, getting pinned after leading 5-2 to start the third period, but bounced back in the consolation to secure a state medal.
Smith, who didnt place last year, said wrestling every day during the offseason along with storming through the postseason and coming in as a regional champion have translated into a boat-load of confidence.
All I want to do is finish No. 1 in the state, he said.
Remember when: Part of the celebration of Mat Classic turning 25 has been a look back at the first multi-class state event in 1989. Mid-Columbia fans had plenty to cheer about then, including a state title for Richlands Thomas Yamamoto at 108 pounds. Additionally, Walla Wallas Mark Echevarria took second at 141 pounds in the AAA (big-school) tournament.
In the AA brackets, Sunnysides Lupe Delgado was a runner-up at 148, and Connells Justin Jenks (108) and Wardens Don Edson (141) finished second in the A tourney.