HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING PREVIEW : It Takes Two to Tangle : Newbury Park’s Pratt Twins Compete Mostly Against Each Other
Maybe someday, Jason and Jeremy Pratt will reminisce about their days as Newbury Park High wrestlers with something closer to a hug than a headlock.
But for now, the 17-year-old twins offer neither to each other.
Since the twins were toddlers, they have engaged in intense physical competition--so intense at times that it has caused fistfights and ill feelings that have stretched the boundaries of brotherly love to what some might consider an alarming degree.
Yet both agree they have thrived under their sometimes stormy sibling rivalry. And they consider it a major reason for their ascent from 95-pound freshmen to muscular 5-foot-11, 160- and 155-pound seniors among the upper echelon of Southern Section wrestlers.
Both figure to have excellent seasons after successful performances as juniors. Jeremy, 43-7 last season, placed ninth among 140-pounders in the state tournament after placing third in the Southern Section 4-A Division finals.
Jason, 32-10 as a 152-pounder, finished sixth in the Southern Section and narrowly missed qualifying for the state tournament.
Both have continued to tone their chiseled physiques and have moved up in weight categories determined to improve.
“They’re both strong,” Newbury Park Coach Marty Maciel said. “They look like they’ve been cut out of rocks.”
Although they have never been tested to determine whether they are identical or fraternal twins, the Pratts have many similarities, not the least of which is their appearance.
As youngsters, the blond-haired boys shared everything from bunk beds to birthday parties.
Today, they share a common circle of friends, a passion for motorcycle riding and a Volkswagen van in which they take turns chauffeuring the other to school.
They also share an interest in acting and have landed bit roles in a handful of productions, including an upcoming Disney movie.
Yet for all their togetherness, Jason and Jeremy--the only children of Chuck and JulieAnn Pratt--also share something else.
Both unabashedly admit that they do not get along and have trouble peacefully coexisting under the same roof--whether at home or in the wrestling room.
“My brother,” Jason says, almost by way of introduction, “has an attitude problem.”
Says Jeremy: “There are about three or four broken doors in our garage. They were in the house, but we’ve torn them down trying to get to each other.”
They do not wrestle against each other for fear that the contest might develop into “a blood bath,” according to Jeremy. Practice sometimes becomes heated simply by their presence.
“They fight all the time,” said teammate Steve Lee, who finished third in the Southern Section finals in the 119-pound division last season and is perhaps the Panthers’ best wrestler. “They want to be better than the other and they start punching each other right in practice.”
Tempers flare between the pair at least once a week, sometimes over one taking up too much room in the back seat of a car.
“I can’t stand it when he has his leg stretched out over mine,” Jeremy said. “That’s just one example.”
Said Jason: “Sometimes we forget (our differences). But we never patch things up.”
They strive to forge their own identities. Jason, who maintains a 3.6 grade-point average, plans to enter the Naval Academy and become a pilot.
Jeremy, whose GPA is about 3.0, plans to wrestle at a West Coast college and perhaps pursue an acting career.
While their behavior might seem shocking to some, Jeremy and Jason do not consider their differences too serious. “We try to be better than each other and I guess that causes conflict,” Jason explained.
Ironically, both admit they enjoy the attention of being a twin. Visibly, they do not often appear fond of each other. But appearances can be deceiving.
“They’ll tell you that they’re so totally opposite and they’ll try to portray the image of ‘I’m the best, my brother’s just there,’ ” JulieAnn Pratt said. “But I think it’s more surface-level than anything.”
She admits being concerned at times with her sons’ behavior. But she says she’s not raising Cain and Abel. “They’ve grown up every day of their lives together,” she said. “You can’t tell me that there isn’t a bond there. You can see it and it comes out. Whenever I reprimand one, the other comes to his defense.”
Chuck Pratt admits that he fostered a competitive nature between his sons when they were younger in order to make them excel. If Jason did 30 chin-ups, he encouraged Jeremy to do 31.
Today, Pratt admits that he might have pushed the twins too hard. “I’m not sure now that that was the best thing to do,” he said. “But I played football and I’ve always been very competitive.
“They do get at each other at times. But I’m not overly concerned about it. They’ve always been referred to as ‘the twins’ and I think they’re just trying to establish themselves as unique. They act competitive and sometimes they seem like they don’t like each other, but they really do care for each other and look out for one another.”
Others close to the Pratt brothers have a similar view.
“I know what it’s like because I’m a twin too,” Lee said. “I fight with my sister all the time.”
Said Maciel: “I’ve been close to three sets of twins in my life. And with every one, it seems like the same thing: They all want to compete with each other and be better than the other. That’s just the way it is.”
But brawls? Broken doors? Touch my leg and I break your face?
Will they always be hostile toward each other?
“I don’t know,” Jason said. “If I leave (for the Navy), I’ll be gone for 13 years or something. I won’t see him that often. Maybe then things will get better.”
TEAMS TO WATCH: C11