BROOMFIELD -- There is a strange dynamic between brothers who compete in the same sport.
In most circumstances, they are supportive and urge each other to the next level -- whether it be through cheering on success or consoling failure. But there is another dimension to brothers who are teammates; one that typically goes unsaid to the outside world but seethes below the surface.
Underneath the cordial exterior of brotherly love is the turbulent sea of sibling rivalry.
Julian and Joseph Prieto are the first to confess they are not immune to this strange dichotomy. They even admit, as identical twins, they are perhaps even more susceptible. But the Holy Family sophomores also believe a lifetime of brother sharpening brother has made them better wrestlers.
Both won regional titles last weekend and enter this weekend's state tournament in Denver as contenders at their respective weight classes.
"You always want to do as good as he does, if not better," said the older Prieto, Joseph. "And it's definitely something that has continued into high school."
The rivalry and support the brothers have shared with each other since they hit the mats at 4 years old has sparked something in the wrestlers. The siblings each earned state places their first year at the high school level. And they are wrapping up their sophomore seasons expected to contend for Class 3A crowns. From what their coach has seen in the Prietos -- 120-pound Julian and 126-pound Joseph -- they have only gotten faster, stronger and more cagey as they have matured.
"They have that year of reflections of what it really is like in high school," HFHS coach Joe Domko said. "Although they came with stellar records as pee-wee wrestlers and youth wrestlers and club wrestlers, there is something about having to catch (a match against) a 17-year-old at state."
The Prietos learned that lesson the hard way as freshmen. The brothers each had ambitions of bringing home Holy Family's first Class 3A state wrestling title their first year on the team. But both ended up falling out of the championship brackets against upperclassmen.
Experience, however, has turned out to be the best teacher and it has showed this season. Both brothers have come up with high-profile wins and have faced off against wrestlers that most likely stand between them and state championships.
Two of them that standout in Domko's mind are Levi Maes of Sheridan and Aaron Cisneros of Jefferson.
Julian and Maes have split in the two meetings the wrestlers have had this season. The Prieto outgunned the defending state champion at the Top of the Rockies, but lost to him in their second meeting.
"Beating him was probably my biggest of the season," the Prieto said. "It definitely could be a state-championship match."
And while Joseph has yet to knock off Cisneros, Domko believes it should be just a matter of time before his wrestler figures out his top-ranked competition's soft spot.
"They're neck and neck," the coach said. "But every time Joseph has wrestled him, he has closed the gap."
The Prietos have the potential to make this a memorable season not only for themselves, but for their entire team. The brothers are part of a small, but talented core of wrestlers that have made the Tigers a force with which to be reckoned. If everything goes right, Domko believes 113-pounder Vincent Casados and 220-pounder Dan Jansen are more than capable of being finalists. Ben Lavoie at 195, meanwhile, is also qualified for state.
As for the brothers themselves, they are excited about their chances. And while there is a burning desire in each to individually claim a championship, they both know what would be better. That is to win titles as brothers.
"That would be awesome," Julian Prieto said.
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