Matthew and Michael Nguyen are natural-born rivals. Over the years, fights between the twin brothers have produced bruises and chipped teeth and scars.
But those competitive instincts proved healthy any time the Evergreen High School seniors entered a wrestling match.
Last month at the Tacoma Dome, Michael Nguyen won the state title in the 113-pound weight division for Class 4A schools. A few minutes later, Matthew joined Michael among the victors at Mat Classic, winning the title at 120 pounds.
For those dual championships, Michael and Matthew Nguyen can share something else.
Together, the Nguyen brothers are The Columbian’s All-Region Wrestlers of the Year.
The state title was the second in a row for Michael, who has been wrestling one weight class lighter than his brother during their high school careers. For Matthew, the title on Feb. 18 was the first, the reward for four seasons of dedicated work.
“It was indescribable, really,” Matthew said, reliving the moment when his arm was raised in triumph. “It was the best feeling ever. The feeling of winning is still with me.”
Michael also was understandably pleased with himself, adding that his second state title was vindication.
“There was definitely a little more pressure this year, because I had to prove that it wasn’t a fluke I won the first time,” Michael said.
From sixth grade on at Cascade Middle School, wrestling gave the Nguyens a place to channel those competitive instincts.
“For our relationship, I think it’s made it better to be able to push each other,” Michael said.
“We definitely got into a lot of fights,” Matthew said. “It made us tougher, though. It was good experience.”
• Michael Nguyen won his second consecutive state title, this one at 113 pounds. He had two pins and two convincing decisions at the state tournament.
• Matthew Nguyen won his first state title, winning twice by fall and twice by 7-3 decisions in the 4A 120-pound bracket at the state tournament. He was second as a junior.
More about Matthew and Michael
• The twins did not participate in organized sports until middle school. They were encouraged by friends at Cascade Middle School to try wrestling.
• Despite their sibling rivalry, going out as state champions together made this season extra special for the Nguyens. So did sharing the experience with longtime friend and wrestling teammate Stephanie Simon, the state champion for girls at 145 pounds.
Next year and beyond
• Both Matthew and Michael said they want to continue wrestling, most likely at the junior college level next year with hopes of eventually at a four-year college.
They will likely be at different junior colleges, though.
“We figured (fighting) was not really a good way to train, and we should just focus on what needs to be done.”
Evergreen wrestler, describing how the twins matured over their prep careers.
Rest of All-Region team
Emilio Alcantar, sr., Hudson’s Bay: Placed second at Class 3A state tournament at 152 pounds.
Aaron Blaine, so., Hudson’s Bay: Placed third at Class 3A state tournament at 138 pounds.
Tyler Davis, sr., Union: Placed third at Class 4A state tournament at 132 pounds.
Cody Geary, sr., Prairie: Placed third at Class 3A state tournament at 182 pounds.
Patrick Mayolo, sr., La Center: Placed second at Class 1A state tournament at 138 pounds.
Bryson Page, sr., Union: Placed third at Class 4A state tournament at 195 pounds.
Anthony Thomas, jr., Evergreen: Placed third at Class 4A state tournament at 160 pounds.
Dillon Thomas, sr., Union: Placed second at Class 4A state tournament at 170 pounds.
Tyler Weiss, sr., Camas: Placed third at Class 3A state tournament at 132 pounds.
John White, jr., Ridgefield: Placed second at Class 1A state tournament at 220 pounds.