There is no tighter bond than the one shared by brothers. It’s clearly evident with Brunswick freshman wrestler Josh Heil and his older brother Dean, a three-time state champion at St. Edward.
As Josh competed in his first district title match at 106 pounds last weekend at Cleveland State, Dean coached him alongside the mat. Dean was on his knees yelling, and later stood up to mimic the moves as if he was wrestling himself.
Dean felt the pain when Josh lost.
“I don’t know if he looks up to me. I’m sure he does in a way,” Dean said. “We always go back and forth joking around with each other saying who’s the better one and what not. I like having him around, and I’m sure going to miss him when I go off to college.
“My main objective is getting that fourth state title and helping him get his first.”
Dean and Josh head to Columbus today with goals in mind as the State Individual Wrestling Championships open at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Dean, a 132-pounder, is aiming to win that elusive fourth state crown before heading to Oklahoma State, while Josh is out to make a name for himself and build on his who’s-better argument for those debates at the dinner table.
“It’s him right now, obviously,” Josh said when asked who’s better. “I’ve got to get my credentials up to speed, then I can start talking.”
While the two tease each other, they’re linked through the sport they picked up around a decade ago. Both have grown into the top wrestlers in the state in their respective weight classes.
Wrestling is definitely in the family genes, as their father, Mike, a Brunswick assistant coach, was a two-time state placer for Brooklyn in the 1980s.
With the pair competing for different schools, it put a lot of miles on the car of their mother, Kim, who regularly tours the northern half of the state to watch both her sons — two of five boys in the family — in action.
It was all worth it as Kim watched Dean mentor Josh at districts.
“I loved that,” said Kim, who proudly wore a blue Brunswick jacket before changing into her green St. Edward one. “It was hard watching because here I am watching Dean coach Josh. I can see Dean as a coach someday. He just loves watching Josh, and Josh loves having him around.
“We have a wrestling mat downstairs and sometimes have to take it to the (laundry) mat,” she continued. “They just fell in love with wrestling at a young age.”
It’s a bond that Josh wouldn’t trade for anything.
“It’s nice,” the 15-year-old said. “He helps me with a lot of things that I struggle with. It’s really an advantage. I ask him about a lot of things. It will be a lot different (next year).”
Josh, a nationally ranked youth wrestler and junior high state-runner up, enters this weekend with a 36-4 record. He was projected to finish eighth at the season’s midway point according to intermatwrestle.com, but has seen his stock rise after battling projected champion Austin Assad of Brecksville in three close matches.
Although the two attend different schools, Dean, who has won state titles at 103, 119 and 126 pounds, wasn’t about to influence his brother’s decision and is proud of what he has accomplished at Brunswick.
“He went to where he felt comfortable and I went to where I felt comfortable,” said the 18-year-old, who has lost only two matches this season. “He’s just doing his own thing, which I like. I didn’t want to force him to go to St. Ed’s. I wanted him to make his own decision, and by going to Brunswick, so far it’s working out for him. He’s losing the close ones and hopefully he can get them (this) week.”
With Dean heading off to wrestle for the top-ranked Cowboys, Josh will assume the role of mentor to little brother Logan.
“He’s starting to pick it up and he’s getting better,” Josh said. “We’ll see how things end up.”
But is he better than you yet?
“No,” he said with a grin.
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.