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Osakis brothers Trenton (bottom, left) and Brendon Coyer wrestle each other during a workout earlier this month. The Coyer brothers both made the state tournament as underclassmen a year ago. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

The backing of a brother

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Osakis’ Trenton and Brendon Coyer never had to search far to find a wrestling partner growing up.

The brothers have been surrounded by the sport for as long as they can remember. They competed in statewide tournaments starting in kindergarten, eager to follow in the footsteps of their dad and their uncle who instilled their love of wrestling in them from an early age.

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Success in any sport tends to stem from getting an early start. But with Trenton, now a junior, and Brendon, a sophomore, having each other has been just as instrumental in molding both of them into two of the top high school wrestlers in Minnesota in the lower weight classes.

“It’s nice because I figure who better to practice with than your brother that’s there the whole time?” Trenton said. “You can practice over and over. It doesn’t matter if he knows the same moves as you do. He can critique your moves, help you get better.”

“TOUGH FARM KIDS”

The Coyers’ strength on the wrestling mat doesn’t necessarily come from hours in the weight room. Instead, it stems from the way they were raised. Growing up on a hobby farm, the brothers developed their strength and work habits by chopping wood and baling hay.

“Tough farm kids,” Osakis wrestling coach Joey Andreasen said. “That’s kind of their mentality. They’re not spoiled. They know how to work hard and that certainly is evident when they wrestle. When times get tough, they don’t quit.”

That work ethic spilled over into their drive to always improve on the wrestling mat. When there weren’t chores to be done, there was wrestling. Being only a year apart in age and so close in weight always provided them with a talented partner to practice with. Off the mat, they have always been there to keep each other accountable.

“Every day,” Trenton said when asked how much they push each other. “At home, even when you’re cutting weight, he’s there telling you not to eat that, drink that, to push harder when you’re running. It’s great.”

VARSITY SUCCESS AT AN EARLY AGE

Together they experienced plenty of success while traveling to events like the Northland Youth Wrestling Association (NYWA) state tournaments over the years. That helped their confidence when they walked into the Osakis varsity wrestling room as a couple of middle school students almost three years ago.

Brendon was in 7th grade when he got his feet wet at the varsity level by wrestling nine matches at 106 pounds. Trenton tried out for the varsity team as a 7th grader before earning his spot in the lineup a year later as an 8th grader. Both have averaged almost 25 wins per year in three seasons since then as Trenton enters this winter with 75 wins and Brendon has 74.

“I was pretty confident because I had been practicing all my life,” Brendon said. “I always did really well in elementary, and he helped me along when he was in 8th grade. When he was sick, that’s when I filled in for him. It was nice when he helped me prepare for that. It helped me to be pretty confident.”

It didn’t take long for both of them to make a name for themselves at the varsity level. Trenton made his first of two straight trips to state when he was a freshman. He wrestled at 106 pounds that season before moving up to the 113-pound weight class as a sophomore.

That made room for Brendon at 106 pounds last season. He entered the state meet knowing he had a legitimate shot at a state title and almost did it. His only hiccup came against Jared Clawiter of Kenyon-Wanamingo in the second round. He overcame that to win his next four matches and take third overall.

It was a fitting ending to a breakout season for Brendon. His teammates named him the Osakis most valuable wrestler as just a freshman after posting a 38-5 record and leading the team in points (191), pins (26) and most wins.

Trenton, who finished with a team-leading 68 takedowns and a 31-8 record, was happy for his younger brother but also uses Brendon’s finish as fuel after finishing without a win at state for the second straight season.

“When he does better, I think I can do better too because we’re pretty close to the same level,” Trenton said. “We know what each other can do. Every move he does, he helps me if I do it wrong. I help him if he does it wrong. Yet, we both have our own styles of wrestling, too.”

HEIGHTENED EXPECTATIONS

The Coyers still have a combined five seasons of high school wrestling left but are feeling more like seasoned veterans coming into this winter. They know expectations are high after a lot of success last season.

“I think we’re expected to go down this year and place in state,” Brendon said.

If Brendon does that, it will come at a heavier weight class than the 106 he wrestled at last year. He will wrestle primarily at 120 this season after growing from his freshman to sophomore season. Andreasen said his path to a state championship will be made tougher with Cameron Sykora of Wheaton moving up to the 120-pound weight class after winning a title at 113 pounds last year and at 106 pounds the two years prior to that.

“I think I’ll do all right,” Brendon said of his jump to 120 pounds. “My expectations are still to go to state and place this year. I’m going for the top this year again.”

Andreasen feels Trenton is poised to not only make it back to state but to get his first win there and make a deep run at 113 pounds.

“I think things are kind of falling into place for him to vie for a state championship,” Andreasen said. “His first year, he was a pretty small 106-pounder. Last year, he should have been a 106-pounder and wrestled 113. Now this year, he’s going to wrestle 113, and he’s going to be a big, strong, physical 113-pounder. He fits perfect into that weight class for his size this year.”

As far as what both of them could accomplish before their time at Osakis is done, that seems limitless.

“They could each win a couple state championships,” Andreasen said. “Or if things don’t pan out for them…things are so tough. They might not place this year even. If things went real bad, they might not even go. But the sky’s the limit.”

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

 Perhaps the next step for this duo is realizing how good they can be at the state level. A lot can happen at a state competition where the wrestlers tend to be evenly matched much of the time. The ones who win often have the mental edge. They go into the match believing nothing is going to stop them. That’s what Andreasen will try to instill in both the Coyers heading into this season.

“I think they’re maybe unsure of themselves,” he said. “I believe they can. I’m not sure they believe they can. I remember last year with Brendon, I kept mentioning it, trying to instill it in his head, but I’m not sure he really believed me…now I think he believes and he knows that it could happen. Now this year, I have to make Trent believe that he is capable because I know he’s capable. If they don’t believe it, they’re going to have a tough time.”

This duo has already established themselves as two of the top wrestlers in their weight classes. Now it’s all about chasing that state title for brothers who will do everything they can to help each other get there.

“Every day,” Trenton said. “We wake up every morning, it’s what drives me to come in and run every morning and every night; to come in and workout, is wanting to place at state. Making it to state is an honor, but placing at state would be even better.”

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Eric Morken
Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
(320) 763-1229
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