Connor and Jared Prince are names already well known in Pinellas County. Now the fraternal twins have their sights set on state titles. Their biggest hurdles? Brandon wrestlers James Flint and Dylan Lucas. Connor and Jared, now sophomores, lost their matches in the finals of the state finals in February to Flint and Lucas respectively. In February, Connor wrestled Lucas at 106 pounds and dropped the decision, while Jared wrestled Flint at 113 pounds and lost.
Don't think either of them has forgotten.
"It made me work harder all summer long, including studying tape on him (Flint) and of that match," Jared said.
Connor has been equally driven.
"When you lose a match like that it sticks with you," Connor said. "You replay it in your mind and think about the mistakes you made, what you can do better next time."
The rematches seem destined to happen. Connor, who is 13 minutes older than Jared, wrestled at an emaciated 106 in February. He has since stepped up three weight classes and is undefeated this season at 126. Eerily similarly, Lucas has moved up three classes and now wrestles at 126. Jared, who didn't have to cut as much as Connor last season, steps up just one weight class into 120 pounds. Again, Brandon's Flint moved up just one class into 120 pounds. The collision courses are set.
There's still a lot more wrestling to go. The Prince brothers should coast through districts but getting through regionals is never a sure bet. Still, the brothers have done everything they could in preparation for this season. Outside of an already rigorous club season, both wrestled in the Super 32 Tournament, a pre season elite tournament. Over the summer, they also went up to Harvard and wrestled college-level grapplers. They both wrestled with the Florida National Cadet Team. They worked drill and grappled with NCAA champion Logan Steiber of Ohio State as well as Nico Megaludis of Penn State.
"They took one week off this whole summer," dad and assistant PHU wrestling coach Mark Prince said.
Wrestling is definitely part of the Prince gene pool. Dad, Mark, was a two-time state champion in Virginia and wrestled for Hampton-Sydney College in Virginia. Prince also coached at Clearwater Central Catholic and Countryside before landing at PHU. Prince definitely harbored a desire to have his kids wrestle.
"When any dad finds out he's having twins, he's chomping at the bit," Prince said.
Prince would not have to wait long. Connor and Jared were wrestling by the time they were six years old. The twins were flirting between baseball and wrestling and their being undersized steered them toward wrestling.
"I won my first tournament when I was eight," Connor said. "After a win like that you start to feel confident you can really accomplish something."
Things went well for Jared at a young age as well.
"It wasn't just one moment but as I started to have more success, baseball started to fade and wrestling started to grow," Jared said.
How do they like being together on the same team?
"I like it, I don't feel alone," Jared said. "I like watching him (Connor) wrestle, seeing what he's gonna do."
It works for Connor, too.
"We can work on problems during a meet together," Connor said.
Who wins when they wrestle at home?
"We don't really wrestle that much at home," Connor said. "We're so familiar with each other that no one can really score on the other one."
Jared chimed in, "if one of us does score, though, it usually turns into a fistfight".
The twins do get a lot out of watching each other as they wrestle in similar classes so speed and opponents are often common factors.
"When he (Jared) wins it motivates me more to win," Connor said. "It's hard to go home with one win and one loss."
The roles have sort of flipped this season. Last season, Jared would watch Connor wrestle first at 106, then step on the mat and wrestle at 113. Now Connor sits back and watches Jared wrestle at 113, then steps in and wrestles at 126.
They are both part of a solid Hurricane wrestling team that is in it's fifth year under head coach Brad Sakevich, whose five-year plan is now in its fruition year. Keep an eye on the PHU wrestling team and on the Prince twins as this wrestling season develops.