FAIRBURY — Drew and Brandon Hoselton do not shy away from their sibling rivalry. They bring out the fierce competitive nature in each other — in almost everything they do.
“Games, sports ...,” said Brandon, a freshman at Prairie Central High School.
“Anything,” interjected the senior Drew.
When it comes to wrestling, that competition becomes even fiercer for the Hawks teammates.
“When we wrestle in practice, we don’t let each other score. We go all out,” said Drew, last year’s Class 1A state runner-up at 160 pounds who now sports a 37-0 record and No. 1 ranking at 170. “We’ve always been pushing each other to be better.”
“He motivates me. I just want to do better than him,” said the 35-1, third-ranked 195-pounder Brandon.
So, who usually gets the upper hand when they spar?
“He’s 25 pounds bigger than me,” Drew admitted with a smirk.
“They help each other hit a higher level,” said third-year Hawks coach Mark Payne, whose No. 6-ranked team is among the contenders in Saturday’s Coal City Regional, along with the fourth-ranked hosts and No. 7 Clifton Central.
“They know each other’s wrestling so well, and that makes them better wrestlers because they know what they can do and can’t do. They have to wrestle pretty well against each other. It’s helped them quite a bit.”
After placing fourth in the state as a sophomore, Drew Hoselton took second last year when he dropped a 4-3 decision to Midwest Central’s Josh McKinney. Hoselton had beaten McKinney 3-2 a week earlier in the sectional.
“It was a tough loss for him. I think it’s motivated him quite a bit; I think he still thinks about that match quite often. But I think it’s a good motivation,” said Payne.
“From the three years I’ve coached this is the best I’ve seen him wrestle. Record wise, he was the same last year at this point as he is this year, but his wrestling is just so much better right now.”
Drew, who has recorded 26 pins and 54 takedowns this year, also is driven by taking a peek at Brandon’s trophy case.
“He’s already got a state title and he’s younger; I want to prove myself,” Drew said, referring to Brandon’s 189-pound championship in last year’s Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation tournament.
Like his older brother, Brandon Hoselton hopes to eradicate the memory of a defeat. His lone setback this season came in a 3-0 decision to Stillman Valley’s Drake Jennings in the semifinals of the Reed-Custer Invitational.
“I lost one time and I wish I didn’t,” said Brandon, who has 25 pins and 29 takedowns. “I think it motivates me more to beat that kid and wrestle better next time. I just hope I wrestle him again.”
Still, Payne marvels at what Brandon has accomplished in his first varsity season.
“This is my 12th year as a head wrestling coach and I’ve had some really good freshmen, state placers. In my opinion, Brandon is by far the best freshman I’ve ever coached,” said Payne, noting that Brandon’s weight class is dominated by juniors and seniors.
“He’s wrestling kids that are very physically mature, kids that are getting ready to wrestle in college. It’s been pretty impressive.”
According to Payne, some of the biggest advantages the Hoseltons have on the mat are a fearlessness and an ability to handle any situation.
“There’s no position you can get either one of these kids into where they don’t know what to do,” he said.
“Their level of wrestling this year and the body of work they’ve had throughout the course of the season, I think they’re both the best wrestlers in their weight classes for Class 1A throughout the entire state.”
In addition to Drew and Brandon, the Hawks boast six wrestlers with at least 20 wins heading into Coal City. Cade Kerns, who is 33-1 and ranked No. 3 at 220, leads the group that also includes Alex Steidinger (29-5 at 285), Logan Deacetis (29-6 at 132), Matt Kerns (28-8 at 182), Corbin Moser (25-8 at 138) and Seth Travis (25-12 at 145).
It’s a group that could have state title aspirations — if things go right in the regional.
“We’ve been put in a very difficult regional with really tough teams,” said Payne. “The expectation is of course that we come out and win the tournament, but it’s going to be an extreme challenge.
"I think we’re going to need a couple breaks; I hate saying that, but I do. But as far as what we can do, I think we’re ready.”