If only every wrestler had the benefit of having a training partner so similar in size, ability, age, background and stage of development.
Particularly one who lives right down the hall.
Twins Drew and Tyler Walker always have had each other since they took up wrestling in junior high — and they've become two of the WPIAL's top-ranked wrestlers.
This weekend, these North Hills High School brothers begin their quests to make it to Hershey for the PIAA individual championships March 7-9.
The WPIAL Class AAA sectionals begin Saturday.
“The brothers are having a great year,” coach Jose Martinez said. “They work hard, so I know they'll work hard at sections and WPIALs. If they believe in themselves and reach deep down inside, they have what it takes.”
Drew Walker is the WPIAL's No. 3-ranked wrestler in the 132-pound weight class; Tyler Walker is No. 3 at 126 pounds. The twins, who are seniors, each have won at least 120 matches in their careers. Drew (25-4 this season) has 120 victories, and Tyler (28-1) is six career victories shy of tying the school record of 131.
Tyler won his weight class at the county tournament earlier this year; Drew was runner-up at 132 pounds.
Tyler was a PIAA qualifier last season after winning the Section 3 tournament and placing third in the WPIAL. He plans on getting back to Giant Center this March — and this time, have his brother along with him.
“What sets them apart is their hunger,” Martinez said. “They didn't wrestle until junior high and until ninth grade for varsity, but they've always worked extremely hard and been so hungry.”
The identical twins can be told apart, says Martinez, only by a slight scar over one of Tyler's eyebrows. “Or, I can tell when they wear different shoes,” he said.
The Walker brothers were into football and basketball while growing up. Martinez had to persuade them to take up wrestling.
“We always had thought it was WWE stuff and never wanted to do it,” Drew said with a chuckle.
Content in realizing that competitive wrestling was nothing like WWE, the twins haven't turned back since being introduced into the sport. They've attacked it the same way they did baseball or football before it — all-in.
“That's just the competitive nature that drives us,” Drew said. “Always competitive.”
“Together,” Tyler said, “we push each other to keep going and to reach our goals. He works really hard and he wants to place at states, and I know he's going to work hard to achieve that so I have to match that intensity. ... We always have a partner to wrestle and train with and to get better.”
The Walkers aren't the only North Hills wrestlers with legitimate WPIAL- and PIAA-qualifying aspirations. Junior Jonathan Avon (160 pounds), freshman 106-pounder Gage Curry and 195-pound senior Alen Turcinhodzic also made it to the county finals, with Avon and Curry winning.
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