Wrestling: Lake Braddock’s Wiles twins blaze a path of redemption

[READ ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST]

No one has displayed more hunger on the wrestling mat this season than Lake Braddock’s Wiles twins. Dante and Darius Wiles, who from the stands can only really be differentiated by Dante’s conspicuous knee brace, have pinned nearly every opponent that’s been thrown at them during their senior campaigns. They’re both undefeated this season, and they’re both aching to redeem for the failures of their recent past.

In fact, the only wrestlers hungrier than this year’s Wiles twins might have been last year’s Wiles twins.

Dante and Darius were kicked off Lake Braddock’s wrestling squad shortly before the Conference 7 tournament last season. A lot of factors came into play, but one of the main problems pushing the Wiles brothers into a funk was their constant need to cut weight. To achieve balance in his lineup, Lake Braddock Coach Scott Matheny needed Ryan Haskett, now a wrestler at Virginia Tech, to compete in the 126-pound category. That left Darius, who was naturally a bit closer to 132 pounds, to wrestle at 120, which left Dante, naturally closer to 120, to wrestle at 113.

[Wrestling rankings: Individual, team for Feb. 3]

The twins repeatedly had trouble making weight, and they now admit they should have dieted better to stay closer to their assigned marks. But they also recall the rigorous means they took to keep their bodies devoid of any unwanted heft. Darius remembers one night when they found themselves about five pounds overweight ahead of an 8 a.m. meet, prompting them to bust out the trash bags, crank up the shower heat, and sit in the bathtub chewing on Jolly Ranchers until 1 a.m.

This season, the Wiles twins have ditched the trash bags in favor of more traditional conditioning. The result? Dante is thriving at 120 pounds, while Darius is cruising along at 132.

Naturally, they’re both 29-0 heading into this weekend’s conference tournament.

“It’s much easier now,” said Darius, eight minutes younger than his “big” brother. “We’re not stressing about making weight and cutting all the time.”

The Wiles brothers, both explosive athletes with deceptive strength and supreme quickness, have rarely endured much adversity this season. No opponent has yet dealt Dante a takedown, while Darius has experienced just one. Thanks to an aggressive approach that typically features a quick shot and a subsequent pin in the first round, the twins frequently win matches in under a minute, prompting Matheny to make them run sprints after meets to maintain their conditioning.

“I’d say the first period on your feet usually determines the whole match,” Dante said. “The first takedown wins because it mentally breaks down the other opponent.”

No official college offers have come their way quite yet, though Virginia Tech, George Mason and VMI have reached out to them. Schools are waiting to see what the Wiles can do at the state level, where Darius emerged victorious while Dante had to settle for second their sophomore year.

“It’s to the point where I would be surprised if there was a high school kid that was going to beat them anytime soon in the state of Virginia,” Matheny said. “We’ve tried to go around to some tournaments and we’ve found some really good kids, but they’ve stepped up to the challenge every single time.”

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