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By Lem Satterfield @satterfield_lem
Sherwood’s Brandon and Brady Holda are identical twins.
Yet their Warriors’ teammate, Armon Nettey, can literally tell them apart with his eyes closed.
“If I’m wrestling them blindly, I can just tell, because they just wrestle a different style,” said Nettey, a 126-pounder, of 113-pound Brandon and 120-pound Brady. “Brandon is a more technical and quicker, and Brady has more of the strength and control with leg-riding and stuff.”
Nettey and the Holdas, all juniors, literally wrestled through adversity as sophomores.
After winning a wrestle-off with Brandon for the starting spot at 113, Netty discovered he couldn’t cut the weight. So while Brandon placed fifth at counties, fourth at regions and finished with a 30-15 varsity record, Nettey met Brady in the 120-pound junior varsity county finals, where they finished first and second, respectively.
But the competition has unified the trio as teammates on the Warriors’ varsity squad this year, where the Holdas are each 9-1 at 113 and 120, and Nettey, 6-4 at 126.
“This year, we have a stronger relationship because I think that the adversity made us stronger,” said Nettey. “When we compete, we make each other work harder and we make each other better. We’re really good friends. Of course, they’re already close because they’re brothers, but they’ve really embraced me.”
All three wrestlers pinned their Whitman opponents during a 58-10 dual meet victory over their visiting county Class 4A East Conference rival Vikings (1-1, 0-1) on Dec. 12, as the Warriors move to 10-0 overall, and, 1-0 in the league.
“Last year, I really wanted Brady up on varsity because when I was getting ready with the varsity team, I would often miss watching him wrestle,” said Brandon Holda, whose 18-second fall bettered Brady’s of 68 seconds. “Brady would be at a different tournament than me, and I would miss having him there offering me encouragement and [constructive] criticism, but now with him being part of the same lineup, I’m more confident.”
Others registering pins were Nettey and seniors Paul Christenson (132) and Yusuf Higazi (182). Christianson, fifth at counties and third at regions last year, is 10-0, and Higazi, 8-1 after being a regional champion and finishing third at counties.
Sophomore Ethan Onslow (106) used a major decision to improve to 8-2 with five pins after winning a total of 16 matches last season.
The Warriors got decisions from seniors Sam Ewing (138) and Antonio Hicks (145) as well as junior Jacob Grossman (170) and sophomore Buck Rogers (285), the latter, 3-1 in overtime. Grossman earned an 11-5 victory over Vikings junior John Mackall, who was fifth at counties and sixth at regions.
“Some of us might not be having our best night, but when that happens, you have others who pick it up, saving us team points or getting us some extra points,” said Ewing, who is 9-1 after being fourth at counties and third at regions.
“This is all a product of everyone working hard over the summer. Everyone knew that this could be our season. We did everything that we could to make sure that we would come back with some fire.”
Receiving forfeits were junior Adam Pfeiffer (195) and senior Chris Sanchez (152), each of whom is 10-0. Pfeiffer placed fourth and fourth at counties and regions as a freshman, and he was fourth and third last year.
“We’re like an army marching to battle,” said Sanchez, a county and regional champion and Class 4A state runner-up. “We’re wrestling for us, we’re wrestling together, and we’re consistently getting better.”
Receiving a forfeit was Vikings’ senior Yussef Zaki (220), a fourth-place county finisher and regional runner-up. Senior Max Gersh (160), fifth at regions, won by 9-0 major decision for the Vikings.
”Tonight, it was like we were the hungrier team. We wanted it more. Like, in that second and third period, we have the stamina to keep on going,” said Nettey. “It’s good that, unlike last year, we [Holdas] were competing for spots, and now, we’re all on varsity. And the harder we work, the closer we get to our goals.”