Family matters for Packer wrestling
All brothers wrestle. It’s just in their nature.
Growing up, I spent plenty of time wrestling with my brother in the basement, where our worried mother wouldn’t see us. Being the little brother, I am pretty sure I was on the losing end of most of those wrestling matches, but that never stopped me from getting the best of my brother, who is four years older and probably outweighed me by 50 pounds for much of my childhood.
As I said, all brothers wrestle. If you look at the Packers wrestling team, it quickly becomes apparent that some brothers are better at it than others.
The Packers have four sets of brothers on the team -- Jordan and Jesse Shearer, Reed and Keegan Cronin, Kollin and Kyle Kragnes and Jacob and Jared Franek -- and all of them are competing at a high level this season.
“When you have a practice partner in your house, they tend to motivate each other to keep getting better,” head coach Kayle Dangerud said. “I think you really see that in the four sets of kids we have here.”
Most of these brothers started wrestling at a very young age, mostly influenced by their fathers. In the case of the Shearers, they started young and didn’t have to go too far too hone their craft.
“We have been training together since fourth and second grade, and once we started, it was kind of an addiction,” Jordan said. “We have a wrestling mat in our basement.”
The two use that mat not only to settle disputes, but also to bring out the best in each other as wrestlers.
“We kind of bring out the bad side in each other when we wrestle,” Jesse said. “We’re so used to being around each other, and we are both really competitive.
Most of these wrestlers come from wrestling families, and were taught the lessons wrestling has to teach by their fathers.
“I like what it builds in your character, and the discipline it gives you,” Reed Cronin said. “It really pushes you through. School doesn’t seem that hard when I think about how hard I work in practice.”
All of the brothers like to train together, at practice and even in the offseason, because they are not afraid to be at their most intense in practice against their brother.
“We wrestle together all the time, because we are fairly similar,” Kyle Kragnes said. “We train hard, and we know that the other isn’t going to ever let us just have it. We just bring out the best in each other.”
The brothers are often the first ones to call each other out on whatever problems they have on the mat, as well as provide pointers they may have.
“He always looks out for me when I’m out there,” Jacob Franek said of his younger brother.
According to their coach, that is probably the best place to hear it.
“Sometimes, they might be each other’s best critic,” Dangerud said. “They can hear the same thing from the coaches or their parents all the time, but hearing it in your brother’s voice might help them just a little bit more.”
While they give criticism when it is needed, they also tend to be quick with a word of encouragement.
“I love how much he has improved this year,” Jordan said of his freshman brother. “We wrestled all offseason together, and he is so much better. It’s unbelievable.”
All brothers wrestle, but it is often for negative reasons. Maybe your brother beat you in a game of Monopoly, or maybe you thought he took one of your possessions. The ability to wrestle with them on an actual wrestling mat apparently provides you with a little more respect and appreciation for your brother.
“He’s a good guy,” Kollin Kragnes said. “I don’t know what I would do without him.”
“He is a hard worker,” Jared Franek said, “and he is always helping me, in the sport and in life.”
One thing is for sure, according to their coach: the team is a lot better off with them on the roster.
“They are all very dedicated, very committed to the program and to being the best wrestler they can be,” Dangerud said. “Great students, too. I really can’t say enough about them.”
The Packers will be participating in the area’s biggest wrestling tournament, the annual Rumble on the Red, on Friday and Saturday.