Mar. 7—Brothers Kynndrick and Braylin Brooks were introduced to folkstyle wrestling at a young age after they stumbled upon a youth flyer in elementary school.
Admittedly, their expectations were a bit misguided at first. and little did they know of the impact the sport would have on them in the years that followed.
"To be honest, I guess I didn't actually know what wrestling was," Kynndrick said, laughing. "I thought it was WWE-type stuff like you'd see on TV. That obviously wasn't it, but it ended up leading to something exciting for both of us."
Fast forward to today and the Brooks brothers serve as a formidable 1-2 punch for the Nevada High School wrestling team. They'll both represent their school at the Class 2 state tournament on Thursday at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence with freshman Kynndrick competing at the 106-pound weight class and junior Braylin competing at 113.
Both grapplers have a 3-seed heading into the state tourney after placing third at the Class 2 Sectional 3 tournament at Seneca High School. Kynndrick moved to 28-2 on the season after claiming a second-period fall over Pleasant Hill's Troy Gustin in the consolation finals, and Braylin followed suit with a first-period fall over Monett's Karey Anderson in his third-place match to improve to 23-9. Both wrestlers have 20 falls on the season.
As for the ultimate goal this week at state?
"Our expectations are pretty high," Kynndrick said. "There's obviously going to be a lot of tough kids when you get to this point, but we're used to seeing tough competition. Braylin was at this tournament a year ago, so it's nice to have him kind of give advice and let me know what to expect."
Braylin has made it back to the state tournament for a second time after qualifying last season at the 106-pound weight class.
"It feels good getting back out there for a second time, but this year I have a higher goal," Braylin said. "Last year my goal was going, and this year it's placing. I'm just excited to get out there, win some matches and try to make top-six."
Perhaps the biggest advantage the Brooks brothers have at their disposal is each other. They've been at a similar weight throughout their wrestling careers, allowing them to be workout partners in the practice room ever since they first took to the mat in grade school.
Then there's the makeshift wrestling facility they have at home. It's not unusual for Kynndrick and Braylin to bust out a portable mat in one of their bedrooms and roll around for up to 30 minutes at a time.
"Our dad always has practices for us at home," Braylin said. "We'll set up our mat and he'll have us running drills to work on our scrambling and what not. It's pretty nice for both of us to have someone who's the same speed and size to roll around with whenever we want — even though things can get a little heated at times. But all siblings fight. The main thing is I've learned more and become a better wrestler just by having Kynndrick as a practice partner over the years."
"It's something like a sibling rivalry, but they use it to their benefit," Nevada coach David Hawks said. "They've had a lot of wrestling experience at home, whether it's actual wrestling or fighting like brothers do sometimes. So they're as competitive as they can be with each other, but at the same time, they also have each other's back and want to see each other succeed."
Off the mat, Hawks describes the Brooks brothers as happy-go-lucky jokesters. Hawks said it's pretty common for the two to team up and playfully harass their upper-weight teammates — at least up to the point where it doesn't come back to bite them.
"They're both goofy kids who like to have fun and relax," Hawks said. "A lot of our guys like to play jokes in the room. You have to have that type of light-hearted fun with as long as the wrestling season is, and especially this season. Kynndrick and Braylin certainly have a way of making things fun and interesting for everybody. and even though our heavier guys are usually the brunt of the jokes, they handle it well. They definitely get their jabs in, too."
Of course, Thursday will be all business for the Brooks brothers as they attempt to become the first state placers for Nevada since Caleb Longobardi accomplished the feat with a third-place finish in 2019. The Tigers also haven't had a state finalist since Dayton Miller posted back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2014 and '15.
As Hawks puts it, nothing is off the table for Kynndrick and Braylin on this week's big stage.
"Their goals are placing, and both of them are very capable of doing that," Hawks said. "It's just a matter of wrestling your best at the right time. We just need to get them to peak at the state tournament on Thursday, and really anything can happen. It should be an exciting day of wrestling, and I know these guys are ready to get after it."
Contact Jared Porter on Twitter at @JaredRyanPorter.