By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
A rivalry between brothers escalating into a wrestling match is so common that it’s almost a cliche. At the Cuzzetto household there is nothing cliche about it. Those kinds of impromptu bouts happen almost every day.
The difference for Edmonds-Woodway High School’s Matt and Noah Cuzzetto is that those matches may well have prepared them for success at the state wrestling tournament.
Entering today’s first round of competition at Mat Classic XXIV in the Tacoma Dome, Noah (106 pounds) and Matt (135) are ranked No. 1 and No. 4 in their respective weight classes by Washington Wrestling Report. As No. 1 seeds out of the regionals, they each appear to have a good chance to advance to Saturday on the winners side of the bracket.
Because they compete in different weight classes, the brothers are left to speculate about who is, in fact, the better wrestler.
“Those two bicker quite a bit like any brothers,” E-W coach Brian Alfi said
Noah, a sophomore Alfi calls a “baby-faced assassin” because of his slight frame and youthful features, brags that pound-for-pound he is better than Matt, a junior. And virtually everyone agrees that Noah is the better wrestling technician.
“I always tease him about that,” Noah said with a smile. “Or being ranked first and he’s ranked (fourth).”
Not surprisingly Matt doesn’t agree.
“We argue about that all the time,” the elder brother said. “I think I’ll beat him because I’m used to wrestling bigger bodies and it’s different when you are a little guy. He always jokes about (being better pound-for-pound). The level of competition is so much different between 106 and 145.”
Whether Noah can beat Matt doesn’t matter this weekend. All that matters is that Noah can beat the other wrestlers in his 106-pound class.
“Noah has been wrestling at a really high level all year,” Alfi said. “He’s only lost three matches this season and two were out-of-state kids. One was someone who wrestled postseason at 113. So when you kind of look around, he’s the favorite going into the state tournament.”
Despite his baby face, and fun-loving attitude off the mat, Noah is confident he can live up to the lofty expectations.
“My goal is to be in the state finals and win it,” said Noah, who started wrestling as a 6-year-old. “I’ve been wrestling basically my whole life and I’ve been working hard for this. This year I’ve got a good shot at it.”
Matt is a Warrior in every sense of the word. At 5-foot-9 he plays quarterback and defensive back for the football team. He is definitely the more injury prone of the brothers, having been to the emergency room 15 times since he was born.
In case there is any danger of Matt blending in with the hundreds of grapplers in Tacoma this weekend, his shoes will ensure he doesn’t get missed. He’ll be sporting neon yellow, pink or electric blue kicks.
“I’ve wrestled with them the whole year,” Matt said.
Though Matt is not the favorite at 145 pounds thanks to Mead’s Jeremy Golding, the two-time defending state champion, his toughness and competitiveness mean he can’t be overlooked.
“I would call Matt Cuzetto a competitor that wrestles,” Alfi said. “He’s obviously a very talented wrestler. He’s also a very talented football player. He’s a great athlete. … Matt is the best competitor we have on the team. He always has a knack for winning in those tight spots. He finds himself in a lot of close decisions and he’s comfortable being there. If it was basketball, he’d be a kid you’d have take the game-winning shot in the fourth quarter.”
Matt knows what he is up against, but has big goals. He might get that from his father, Michael, who also wrestled in high school and hopes his boys can be the first brothers from E-W to participate in the state tournament all four years.
“I feel like I have it in me, but I have good competition this year,” Matt said in reference to Golding. “It will be difficult.
“Last year he beat me 10-6. I was the only person to put him on his back in the tournament, so that was big.”
Whether they win their respective weight classes or not, there is a good chance that neither Cuzzetto brother will spend much time on his back this weekend.