Families prove motivational for wrestlers
Nobody understands a wrestler like another wrestler.
Tonganoxie Wrestling Coach Bill DeWitt said it's because of this that wrestlers have a tendency to be a tight-knit family of sorts.
But at Tonganoxie, family is meant less in the figurative and more in the literal sense. The team boasts five sets of brothers. Fourteen of the team's 26 wrestlers are related to another team member.
These 14 have contributed much to the team's success. At the end of the regular season, 10 members of the 13-member varsity squad were related to someone else on that squad.
Those 10 finished the regular season with a combined 142-95, or .669, record. Nine of those 10 finished with winning records five got 15 wins or more.
DeWitt said that having so many relatives on the team had helped the Chieftains.
"Generally siblings at this age hate each other," he said. "That's not really the case with us, but they do motivate one another."
DeWitt said that the team is close because of the intensity of practices, but that "having siblings helps the team, if only that it is more motivation nobody wants to be outworked by his brother."
Having a relative on the team can also help motivate a wrestler in competition
"You really don't want to lose in front of him," said James Hartshorn, brother of Jerry.
What's slightly unusual about the relatives on the team, is that they all wrestle at different weights, DeWitt said.
Mike Andrews wrestles at 160, while brother Travis wrestles at 112. Jerry Hartshorn, brother of 215-pound James, wrestles at 135.
Tony Miller wrestles at 275, while brother Andrew wrestles at 189. Jeremiah Ferris wrestles at 171. Brother Josh weighs in at 125.
Matt Weyer wrestles at 171, and his brother, Pat, wrestles at 152. Cousins Chad and Jerod Starcher weigh in at 103 and 275, respectively.