The transition period is well over, and the shock of moving eight hours from home has come and gone.
Evan and Robert Henderson are comfortable, and things are starting to speed up.
“It’s just going so fast now,” Robert, a redshirt sophomore, said. “It’s weird because we’re not transitioning to the college life with school and wrestling anymore, we’re starting to transition into the real world.”
The Henderson twins, Kiski School graduates from Clyde, are in their third seasons as part of the University of North Carolina wrestling team. They have fueled each other throughout their careers, and that hasn’t changed as they’ve gotten older. If anything, it has brought them closer.
“He’s always been there, good and bad,” Evan, a junior, said of his brother. “It’s just awesome. He’s the only guy that I can really count on down here. My family is over eight hours away. It’s him and me against the world down here. He’s my support system and always has been.”
Evan is ranked fourth in the nation at 141 pounds, according to InterMat’s rankings, and leads the Tar Heels in wins this season with a 27-3 record. Last March, he finished sixth at the NCAA championships to earn All-America honors after winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title at 141. He has a career record of 86-23.
“It’s great,” Robert said of Evan’s success. “He knows I’m a part of it, even if I’m not up there in the rankings or on the podium with him. A win for him will always be a win for me. I’m happy for him.”
Evan placed first this season in the Wolfpack Open and the Reno Tournament of Champions and most recently took fifth place at the Southern Scuffle. He is 12-1 in dual matches and 2-0 in the conference.
“I started my career my freshman year at 10-0, and that kind of set the tone for me for my career here,” he said. “I actually feel more relaxed this season. The season just feels better. I feel better, I’m more comfortable. I’ve had a few setbacks, and nobody likes to lose. But you have to learn from it and move on.”
Robert, a 149-pounder, is 3-5 this season and 15-15 so far in his career.
“I haven’t been starting since the beginning of the year, but that’s just the way things worked out,” Robert said. “It’s not that I dwell on the losses, but I feel like you learn more from losses. The best part is the camaraderie with the team. With wrestling, when you fight and compete with each other all year long for a spot, you get to know each other pretty well. It’s awesome.”
What the Hendersons have learned since beginning their collegiate careers is that it takes a lot of hard work. Whether it is extra time studying or late-night workouts, they have figured out the balance and dedication it takes to be an athlete at the Division I level.
“We’re really in the grind right now,” Robert said. “We’re over the midway point in the season, and we’re getting into our major classes now. I could probably graduate next year, but I’m thinking of taking advantage of my redshirt and staying the full five years. It’s tough.”
“You have to really want it in this sport, or you’ll get run over,” Evan said. “We went to boarding school, and that helped us prepare for college. But you have to have what it takes. I’m working at it right now, being in the gym at 8:30 at night. I want the national title.”
UNC returns to the mat tonight at North Carolina State in an ACC matchup. After that, the Tar Heels have five more dual matches before heading to the conference championships.
“Of course I think I can do it,” Evan said of a repeat. “If I didn’t think I could, I wouldn’t be here. Now I know what to expect and what it takes”
“There are no surprises anymore,” Robert said. “We know what’s coming up, in wrestling and in life.”
JOSH PATRICK (Rutgers, wrestling): A freshman from Ligonier Valley, Patrick is off to a solid start in his college career. Although he isn’t the starter in regular dual matches, the 125-pounder is 15-12 this season with six wins by fall.
On Nov. 10, Patrick tied for fifth place at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open with losses to Penn State’s Nico Megaludis, who is ranked second in the country, and David White, of host Binghamton.
Patrick finished his high school career with a 113-20 record, and he placed at the state tournament three times.
The Scarlet Knights return to action on Feb. 8 at Lehigh.
OLIVIA RUPP (Mount Aloysius, basketball): A 5-foot-9 junior forward, Rupp has played in 16 of the Mounties’ 17 games this season. The Marion Center graduate is averaging 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
She scored a season-high 11 points against Pitt Greensburg on Jan. 8 and Pitt Bradford on Jan. 18.
Rupp is seventh on the team with 71 points and fifth with a .708 free throw percentage (17 of 24) in her 269 minutes played.
Mount Aloysius (10-7, 8-3 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference) is on a seven-game winning streak and travels to Penn State Behrend on Saturday.
ALI O’BARTO (Mount Aloysius, basketball): O’Barto, a 5-foot-7 sophomore guard from Blairsville, has appeared in 14 games this season. She scored seven points and had four steals in the Mounties’ opener against Valley Forge Christian College.
MACKENZIE WARGO (Edinboro, swimming): Wargo, an Apollo-Ridge graduate, was a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference qualifier last season.
The junior, who specializes in the breaststroke and butterfly, most recently finished first in the 200-yard butterfly as the Fighting Scots (9-0) beat Tiffin and Malone on Jan. 17. She’s also a part of the 200 backstroke relay team.
She swam her fastest college times in the 100 butterfly (1:00.14) and 200 breaststroke (2:02.63) at the PSAC meet last season.
At Apollo-Ridge, she was the state runner-up in 2010 in the 100 breaststroke.