By KEVIN HARRIS
David and Tyler Fridley are your typical set of brothers.
When the twins are competing against each other, they do whatever it takes to defeat the other sibling.
“Throwing a football in the backyard, we always have competitions. Playing basketball one-on-one usually turns into a wrestling match because we’re getting mad at each other,” Tyler said. “Everything we do is a competition with us. That helps us become the best we can be. It’s pure competition all the time.”
But when one of the brothers is trying to accomplish a goal, the other twin gives unconditional support for his brother.
“If I’m out there wrestling, then he’s right in the corner yelling and telling me what to do and helping me out,” David said. “After the match, we look through our film together and critique each other on what we need to do to get better and work on in practice.”
Throughout the 2012-13 wrestling season as seniors on the Jeffersonville High School wrestling team, the brothers have been pushing each other, so they can both be in a position to achieve their postseason goals. They will begin their state tournament quests on Saturday at the Jeff Sectional.
David’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the IHSAA State Finals, which will be Feb. 15-16 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Last season, David advanced to the Evansville Semi-state for the first time in his career, but he fell short of reaching state. The 160-pound grappler, who sports a 26-12 record this year, says his work ethic will be a key factor in whether he reaches state next month.
“I need to keep on working hard in practice and never give up,” David said. “When I feel tired, I’ve just got to keep on striving through and keep working hard.
“I want to go to state — that’s my goal. I made it to semi-state last year, but that wasn’t good enough for me so I want to go to state.”
Tyler Fridley, who is 16-8 this season, has his sights on getting to semi-state in the 152-pound division. Tyler has been out most of the season with a neck injury and came back to the mats about three weeks ago.
In addition, he wants to help his brother and practice partner get to the state finals.
“My goal this year is semi-state,” Tyler said. “My other goal is to push him all the way to state and be the world’s best practice partner and get him ready for all these competitions.”
Jeff coach Danny Struck has been pleased with the performance of both brothers this season.
“Their seasons are going well,” Struck said. “All of David’s losses have been to former state champions or former state qualifiers. He’s such a great wrestler. Tyler is an explosive wrestler.”
David and Tyler both admit the sibling rivalry can get pretty intense in practice. But at the end of the day, the twins are trying to get the other one to reach his full potential.
“In practice, yea, we want to kill each other,” Tyler said. “But that’s good practice for us both. We’re in each other’s heads. We know the soft spots in each other and we know how to push each other. It gets real physical, but it brings out the best in both of us.”
Struck has noticed the competitive fire between the brothers when they are sparring against each other in practice.
“They just love to compete,” Struck said. “But they’re such coachable kids that they put smiles on their faces [after a practice bout] and then they get back at it.”
David says facing his brother every day in practice definitely prepares him for formidable upcoming opponents.
“Tyler is more of a strength wrestler, so he’s helping me get stronger. He’s just using his strength and I’m trying to defend that,” David said. “I’m more of a technique wrestler, so that’s helping him with technique work. We’re perfect practice partners together.”
The twins and their teammates will be trying to keep an important streak alive on Saturday. The Red Devils will attempt to capture their fifth consecutive sectional championship and their sixth title in seven years.
“We’re just going to have to work hard and wrestle hard,” David said. “If everybody gets their practices in and practices real hard, we can beat them.”
“We’ve been working hard all year for this,” Tyler said. “Everybody has been telling us that this is our down year this year. But we feel these wrestlers in [the Jeff wrestling room] have been working hard all year. We have confidence that we can do this.”
During Jeff’s quest to repeat as sectional champions, David says he and his fellow seniors have had to step up their leadership roles, primarily as vocal leaders, this season after the Red Devils lost several key wrestlers from a year ago.
“We do have a younger team and we don’t have as good of standout athletes as we’ve had before,” David said. “[The Jeff seniors] have definitely had to step up and we’ve been pushing our team to the fullest because we know what it is like to win a sectional title and some of these people don’t on our team. We tell them we need to get there again.”
But Tyler believes that the veteran Devils have had to lead by example at a high rate this season.
“You can say all the right things as a leader,” Tyler said. “But you have to set an example for everybody. If you’re not setting the right example, how can they follow you? If you’re not showing it out there, they’re not going to want to follow you.”
Both brothers have been a part of other successful winning teams at Jeff High. David was a member of the Red Devil boys’ soccer team that won the Class 2A sectional last fall. Tyler was the starting quarterback on Jeff’s 2012 football team that posted an 8-4 record and lost to Castle in the Class 5A Sectional 8 final.
The twins say that once the soccer and football seasons end, they are ready for the wrestling season so they can get their competitive juices flowing again.
“It’s huge for me because when you get into football, you work out probably two times a week. As soon as that season is done, you just feel like you want more, especially for me,” Tyler said. “When you come out on the mat, it’s just raw explosion. Everything you do in wrestling is pure explosion. It’s working hard all the time, picking somebody up and all the tackles you do in practice. It’s contact constantly.”
The Fridley brothers are not the only ones in their family involved with Jeff wrestling. Older brother Marc, a former Red Devil wrestler, is an assistant wrestling coach at Jeff and Parkview Middle School.
NEWS AND NOTES
• Pirates collect another MSC title: Last Saturday at Charlestown Sports Arena, Charlestown won the Mid-Southern Conference championship for the 10th time overall and the eighth consecutive season. The Pirates scored 240 1/2 points, 71 1/2 more than second-place Eastern.
Charlestown had 10 wrestlers reach the finals. Six Pirates earned conference titles in Luke Woods (106), Tanner Smith (113), Artemio Gomez (126), Cameron Stuart (138), Zach Higdon (160) and Zach Green (182). Finishing second for Charlestown were Bryant Haynes (120), Austin Church (145), Kameron Heil (152) and Dakota Stevenson (285).
Also placing for the Pirates were Cameron Hopson (132) and Trent Gilbert (220) each finishing third and Esdras Hernandez (195) ending up fourth.
“I was pretty impressed how we wrestled all day,” Charlestown coach Adam Doherty said. “Everybody wrestled above their seeds. We could tell they were wrestling with a little more passion this past weekend.”
• Bulldogs sweep New Albany Duals: New Albany won all four of its dual meets at last Saturday’s New Albany Duals.
The Bulldogs defeated Southwestern (75-6), Providence (75-6), Indian Creek (55-24) and Louisville Manual (73-4).
Eight New Albany grapplers each posted a 4-0 record during the tournament. Leading the way was senior Austin Jamison, who went 4-0 in the 126-pound division. He collected his 117th career victory, moving him up to sixth on the Bulldogs’ all-time wins list.
Also recording perfect marks at the NA Duals for the Bulldogs were Bryce Peavler (120), Tre Lynch (132), Hunter Langley (152), D Frederick (160), Ethan Lee (170), Nick Lynch (195) and James Searcy (285).
“Everyone wrestled extremely well and I am pleased with everyone’s performance,” New Albany coach Eric Burres said.
• Former NA coach passes away: Phil Thrasher, the man who started the New Albany High School wrestling program, recently passed away.
Thrasher began the Bulldogs’ wrestling team in 1955 and coached the program for 40 years until 1995. During his tenure, Thrasher guided New Albany to 14 sectional titles, six regional championships, three semi-state crowns and a state runner-up finish in the 1960-61 season. He also coached five individual IHSAA state champions.
Along with starting New Albany’s program, Thrasher helped start high school wrestling programs at Floyd Central, Providence and Corydon Central.
Thrasher was inducted into the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1974.
Thrasher also earned induction into the New Albany High School Hall of Fame in 2012. He taught at NAHS throughout his coaching tenure from 1955-1995.
• Mustang pair win titles at Milan: Last Saturday, New Washington’s Brady Meenach and Jacob Franklin each won individual titles at the Milan Invitational. Meenach claimed the 138-pound championship, while Franklin won the 170-pound crown.
WRESTLER OF THE WEEK
Austin Jamison, New Albany
The Bulldog senior went a perfect 4-0 in the 126-pound division at the New Albany Duals last weekend. The four victories moved him up to sixth on the Bulldogs’ all-time wins list with 117.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
The Pirates continued their dominance of the Mid-Southern Conference by capturing the conference meet title at Charlestown Sports Arena. The Pirates tallied 240 1/2 points with six individual champions and 10 wrestlers making the finals.