Rodriguez boys eye twin wrestling titles
They’re typical identical twins.
Jesus and Daniel Rodriguez are competitive in everything they do, whether they’re practicing against each other in the Central High School wrestling gym, comparing the number of pins each has or even which one the girls like better.
Athletically, that competitiveness fuels the Rodriguez brothers. In terms of their wrestling, it only makes them better.
“We’re going for who can do better,” Daniel said, the twins engaging in their usual show of one-upsmanship with the other.
“I wrestle Daniel my hardest,” Jesus said. “I get so mad when he beats me.”
Daniel has the slight weight advantage. Jesus wrestles at 125 pounds, Daniel at 130, the same weights the juniors have wrestled for three seasons.
Between them, the two have lost only one of the 20 matches they’ve wrestled through the first two weeks of the season.
Jesus is 9-1, six of his victories coming by pin. His only defeat came last Saturday when he lost to Legacy’s Jesse Carlson 9-7 in the Mesa State Duals.
“I was so mad,” Jesus said. “It was a woulda, coulda, shoulda match.”
That loss has given him that much more motivation for this weekend’s annual Warrior Classic, not that he needed any more incentive.
Jesus lost the 125-pound championship match in last year’s Warrior Classic.
“That’s my goal, for sure,” he said of winning the title on Saturday.
Daniel is 10-0 at 130. Since his first three victories, all by decision, he’s been on a seven-pin streak.
Desire isn’t their only asset.
“They’re just both really talented,” Central head coach Laurence Gurule said.
Physically, “They’ve got great hips,” Gurule said, which they use effectively when making throws.
Perhaps most important, Gurule said, “They listen.”
As a nod to the respect they’ve earned among their peers, the two have been selected as half of the Warriors’ four-wrestler crew of captains.
At times when they are challenged in the classroom, Gurule said wrestling has provided a motivation to stay in school.
Coupled with the discipline and work ethic they’ve learned on the mat, “If they (work hard in the classroom),” they can go a long way,” Gurule said, predicting they could continue their wrestling careers in college.
Both qualified for last year’s Class 5A state tournament. Jesus placed sixth, Daniel went 1-2.
During the summer they were part of an exchange trip to Germany, competing in four freestyle matches.
“I think Germany just built up my confidence,” said Daniel, who won all four of his European matches.
He learned a double-leg toss that he now uses as one of his takedown moves.
Since that trip, “I take it real serious with everything I do,” Jesus said of learning how to wrestle for the full six minutes and make every move count.
Both have visions of standing atop the medals podium at the end of the Warrior Classic on Saturday. Even if they both win their respective weight classes, one of them expects to stand a little taller than the other.
That’s how it is with identical twins, one always trying to outdo the other.