Put Dillon and Darren Harris in a room together and it won’t take long before the conversation turns to wrestling.
Whether it is preferred holds, past matches, or their favorite subject lately – winning state championships together – the brothers from Yelm High School are never at a loss for words on the sport they grew up with.
“We’re looking for both of us to win state,” Dillon Harris said. “That’s our goal. That’s what we talk about all the time – the Harris brothers winning state.”
After winning Class 3A Region III titles last week in their respective weight classes and putting together stellar individual seasons, the brothers have a real chance to make that dream come true beginning today at Mat Classic XXIV in the Tacoma Dome. For Dillon, a 132-pound junior, and Darren, a 106-pound freshman, it would be the culmination of nearly a decade of hard work.
“I think they have a shot,” Yelm coach Gaylord Strand said. “They are both looking pretty good heading into it and both have put a lot of time into this. They started young and have worked hard. Now they are starting to see the fruits of their labor.”
It didn’t take long for either brother to make an impact on the Yelm program. Dillon finished second at state at 103 pounds two years ago and reached state again last season. This year he enters Mat Classic with a 26-3 record, including 18 pins.
Darren has been just as dynamic. He comes in as one of the favorites, thanks to a 25-2 mark with 22 pins. Both are currently ranked No. 1 in the state in 3A at their respective weights.
Should Darren capture a championship, it would be the first by a Yelm freshman.
“He’s surprised me this year,” Dillon said of his younger brother. “I knew he was tough, but I didn’t expect this. Now that I’ve watched him all season I know he can do it. At first I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen for him, but he’s done a great job.”
With as much time as they have spent on the mat together while growing up, it’s hard to believe there are any surprises between the two. Dillon was 9 and Darren 7 when they started wrestling. There’s scarcely been a moment since then when at least one of them wasn’t near a mat. At home, they’ve converted a room off their garage into a wrestling room should the urge strike to shoot some single-leg takedowns.
The room is a work in progress, but they still spent much of the summer there. Darren said once they get around to insulating the walls the two expect to log even more hours perfecting their craft.
“I imagine we’ll be in there every night and probably every day,” Darren said. “We just love it.”
That passion just might translate into state titles for the pair this year. But winning won’t be easy.
Dillon has a tough draw early, and every wrestler at state can count on an unexpected test or two along the way. Darren will have to deal with the usual nervousness that comes with being a freshman at Mat Classic.
At least both will have familiarity on their side. Dillon has been there before, and Darren already knows the ins and outs of Mat Classic, after spending the past two years cheering on his brother in the Tacoma Dome. In one way or another both have been attending the event since grade school.
“I’m just getting ready to go in there and tear it up,” Darren said. “I’ve watched my brother go through state his freshman year and then again last year. I’ve seen how he handled the stress of it and the challenge of it.
“Knowing how he made it through is going to help me. I kind of know what is ahead of me.”
It’s something they always talk about.
MAT CLASSIC XXIV
Where: Tacoma Dome
Schedule: Today – first session, 10 a.m.; second session, 4 p.m. Saturday – third session, 10 a.m.; finals, 5 p.m.
Tickets: Single-day – $15 adults, $11 students/seniors. Two-day – $23 adults, $17 students/ seniors.