Thornton twins give the Vikings some personality

Published 1:43 pm Thursday, February 20, 2014

Brothers Cody and Wyatt Thornton have performed on the mat this season and have also kept things light for the No 4-ranked Vikings. (Leader photo/ALYSE HOYT)

Brothers Cody and Wyatt Thornton have performed on the mat this season and have also kept things light for the No 4-ranked Vikings. (Leader photo/ALYSE HOYT)

Niles High School wrestlers Wyatt Thornton and Cody Thornton have made an impact with their performance and personalities.

“They’re happy go lucky,” said Niles wrestling coach Todd Hesson about the identical twins. “Wyatt and Cody are big into the outdoors. They both like to hunt and fish.

“I always give them the business that one of them has to get a haircut because I couldn’t tell them apart. Cody got a haircut so I can tell them apart now. I appreciated that.”

As gifts, Hesson has received from the brothers blue gill fillets and deer jerky, from a deer that the brothers killed.

“I got a good laugh from that,” Hesson said about the deer jerky.

“We like to give back to coach,” Cody said. “He does so much for us. We could never repay him. We wouldn’t be where we are as wrestlers if not for him. He makes a hard sport fun.”

Wyatt has bragging rights, slightly, when it comes to age. He’s six minutes older.

“We don’t really talk about it,” said Wyatt about the age difference. “He says he’s tougher, but I’m really tougher.”

The twins have had a chance to prove who’s tougher when facing each other in practice. Cody wrestles at 189, while Wyatt is at 215.

“I think I’m better, but he probably feels he’s better,” Wyatt said.

“It’s physical,” said Cody. “We get mad at each other. “It’s a toss-up who wins.”

Hesson likes watching the brothers compete.

“They get pretty scrappy with each other,” Hesson said.

That same feistiness is on display against opponents. Wyatt owns a 26-5 record and was an individual district runners-up. Cody is 20-12. Pretty good records considering this is the first year wrestling on the varsity for the two juniors.

The duo has helped the fourth-ranked (Division II) Vikings win 20 of their 24 dual matches and advance past the regionals for the second straight year. Niles will compete in the state quarterfinals Friday at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.

“Cody and Wyatt had big shoes to fill with the graduation of wrestlers like Ryan Casey,” Hesson said. “They’re really stepped up. They’ve grown into the sport.”

Cody feels he has plenty of room for improvement on the mat.

“I didn’t do as well as I could have,” Cody said. “But I did what I had to do to help the team.”

Wyatt is happy the program stayed strong despite losing seven starters from last year’s state semifinalist team.

“We’ve come real far as a team,” Wyatt said. “Guys stepped in where we needed them. No one complained. Guys just did what the team needed.”

The two brothers and the team have great chemistry.

“It’s cool to have my brother on the team, especially now with all the success we’ve had” Cody said. “My teammates are like brothers.”

“It’s real cool to have somebody to train with that is an equal to you,” Wyatt said about wrestling with his brother. “We look up to each other and challenge each other to get better.”