By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
Edmonds-Woodway wrestler Matt Cuzzetto may be able to tease his younger brother and teammate Noah about being bigger than him, but Noah has a response that can make Matt go silent pretty quickly.
Noah simply has to remind his brother that he has won a state championship and his brother has not.
The teasing is in good nature, but according to the two brothers it definitely has happened a time or two before.
“I’m proud of him and his success,” Matt said. “It’s a good thing most of the time, but it can be a bad things sometimes. Just when he wants to say he is better than me at something and he will say, ‘I won state and Matt you didn’t even place last year.’”
But the younger brother wouldn’t do that, would he?
“Ehhhh, sometimes,” Noah admitted. “When he tries to pull cards like I’m bigger than you, or football, or something like that. You’ve got to have something to come back at him with.”
Matt Cuzzetto was also a star defensive back on the Warriors football team.
This season, Matt has a chance to match his younger brother with a state championship of his own. That is, unless Noah wins championship No. 2. Both wrestlers come into the season ranked No. 1 in the state in their respective weight classes, Noah at 113 pounds and Matt at 152 pounds.
The older Cuzzetto brother said most of the time Noah’s previous success serves as motivation for him.
“It’s challenging because Noah and I have grown up since we were little kids and have always been competitive and seeing who does better in this and does better in that,” Matt said. “It’s really pushed me personally because he won state last year and it’s kind of like I’m living in the shadow of my little brother. But it just pushes me to want to work harder and for example, want to win state because my little brother already did it. It’s good, it’s a challenge, it keeps us going.”
Warriors wrestling coach Brian Alfi said that it is the brothers’ competitiveness that makes them what they are.
“I think anytime you have siblings you probably grow up a little bit more competitive,” Alfi said. “You watch those guys wrestle and you can just see that they are very competitive people. I think that is what drives them as wrestlers is that competitive attitude they have.”
The two brothers admit that they are best friends, but even best friends don’t get along all the time.
“They bicker sometimes,” Alfi said. “Yesterday at practice they were bickering, I didn’t know what they were bickering about. But it’s like, ‘Knock it off.’ It’s stupid stuff. I don’t even know what they were fighting about, but they were fighting about something before practice. But once practice goes, they know it’s time to work. Our team as a whole is kind of like that. They are buddies outside the room, but in the room they are pretty competitive with each other.”
And the fights never last long before the brothers are inseparable again.
“It’s like having a best friend that’s always around you,” Matt said. “You are never going to get along perfectly with your best friend.”
“You get in your fights, you get in your scraps, you get mad at each other, but at the end of the night, the next day you are always best friends again,” Noah added.
Aside from their individual success, the Cuzzetto brothers also play a key role on a team that comes into the season as the No. 6 ranked 4A team in the state, right behind a fellow Wesco team and perennial power Lake Stevens.
“It’s pretty cool coming in and being ranked sixth because I think the highest we have ever been ranked was seventh,” Noah said.
The brothers say they want to follow the example set for them by the success of the Lake Stevens program, but they don’t want to emulate them.
“We don’t want to live in the shadow of trying to be better than Lake Stevens,” Matt said. “We have to make our own legacy.”
“We are not trying to be like their rivals,” Noah added. “We are trying to be our own program. We want to be strong in the state. We want to be ranked high in the state, number one sometime.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at email@example.com.
FIVE WRESTLERS TO WATCH
Jacob Naslund, Sultan, Sr.
The Turks senior is ranked ninth in a very competitive 182-pound weight class after going 1-2 at 170 pounds last season. Besides last year’s runner-up Centralia’s Kyzer Bailey, the 182 division also has a former state champ in Cheney’s Elias Mason, who moved up from 152.
Zach Schut, Stanwood, Sr.
The Spartans grappler finished fifth in 152 pounds in 4A at last year’s Mat Classic and is ranked third at 160 pounds in 3A going into this season. If he wants to win a state championship he’ll have to best last year’s runner-up in the weight class Decatur’s Nick Karis.
Ciaran Ball, Meadowdale, Jr.
The Mavericks junior won three matches at state last season to finish fifth at 195 pounds and is back looking for a state title. He’ll have to knock off the two Jakes — Jake Ferris (third in 3A last year) and Jake Grantham (fourth in 2A) — if he wants to win a state title.
Gino Obregon, Cascade, Jr.
The Bruins junior transferred from Snohomish to wrestle under his ?, Brooklyn. Obregon, who finished 5-1 to take third at 113 pounds last season, is ranked No. 2 at 120 this season and may have to go through Kamiak’s David Garcia for a shot at a state title.
Shaq Reed, Lake Stevens, Sr.
The Vikings wrestler had a tough Mat Classic last season, going 0-2. But now a senior, Reed finds himself in a 220-pound weight class that is wide open after being decimated by injury. Reed will be gunning for Tahoma’s Matt Hopkins and Wenatchee’s Kyle Lesmeister.