The Kuchtas have gotten used to the double takes. The lingering stares and the dropped jaws have also become routine. The other thing senior identical twins Adam and Austin Kuchta have become accustomed to — yet never get tired of — is having their hands raised in the center of the wrestling mat.
The brothers do everything together.
Last season, they each won 36 matches, captured the same four regular-season tournament titles, won their weight classes in the West Shore Conference and finished fourth at the Division III district tournament. Unfortunately for them, they also matched each other’s 0-2 performance at the state tournament.
Last summer, they decided to transfer from Elyria Catholic to Lorain High … together.
“We thought we could probably do a lot better in Division I wrestling,” said Austin. “We knew the move would be tougher, but we figured all we had to do was lose weight and we’d be fine.
“It’s a public school and it’s a bigger school, and more colleges go to D-I schools. That’s why, if it’s a great tournament with tough competition and I do well, then college scouts will definitely come and talk to me.”
The Kuchtas, who have lived in Lorain since moving to Ohio from North Carolina two years ago, want to wrestle for a Division I college program — preferably at the same school.
But they also have a little unfinished business left in their high school careers — earning another trip to Columbus.
“That’s the bare minimum (goal),” said Austin, the Titans’ 182-pounder. “I’m trying to place high — one to five — I’m trying to get there (on the podium). I’m working hard every day in the wrestling room and trying to get there.”
The move to Lorain was made easier because the boys knew several athletes that already attended the high school, and they played for the Titans football team this fall to further build ties to the student body.
Not that the Kuchtas needed to do anything but stand next to each other to draw attention.
“Everyone was like, ‘Look at the twins,’” said Adam, the Titans’ 195-pounder. “Everyone was trying to talk to us. That’s how we met most of our friends. It made it a lot easier.
“Plus, I would get to know people that were already friends with Austin. People that knew him would think they know me, so they’d just start talking to me … and they’d do the same to him.”
What the twins couldn’t accomplish with their distinctive looks or their outgoing personalities, they achieved with their actions. They won over their teammates with their work in the wrestling room.
“They are such great leaders — they lead by example,” Titans first-year coach Mark Moos said. “They’re going to be who they are no matter where they are at. They know how to get guys’ attention. They have a way of saying, ‘Look at me, look at what I can do,’ with the things they do in practice.”
The brothers are used to being leaders, especially in the world of wrestling.
Adam went to the North Carolina state tournament as a freshman, and was so impressive that he was ranked the No. 1 wrestler at 220 pounds most of his sophomore season, even though he was at Elyria Catholic competing for the Panthers.
The pair showed every EC wrestler how to train, compete and be successful last year, and they believe it’ll be more of the same at Lorain.
“(Being leaders) was just something we were able to do,” Austin said. “We were the leaders at EC, we were the leaders in North Carolina and now we’re leaders at Lorain. At first, people didn’t think that we were really good until we started wrestling each other and other guys in the room.
“All the wrestlers in Lorain are now close friends.”
The secret to the Kuchtas’ success, according to Moos, is their ability to wrestle like lighter wrestlers while entrenched in the upper part of the lineup.
“They are so fast and explosive … it would hurt them to wrestle like heavier weights,” Moos said.
Not that Moos — a two-time state champion while at St. Edward — doesn’t see plenty of room for improvement.
“You can really tell they are twins — everything they do well, the both do well, and everything they do wrong, they both do wrong,” he said. “They just need to tighten everything up, they’re still a little bit sloppy. They could both do really good things this year.”
The accomplishments will come thanks to the hard work each puts in, and the hard time each gives the other.
“We’re always going at it … constantly,” Adam said. “He’s going to be my drill partner until high school ends — he’s the main person I go to. He’s constantly going hard. He’s got a killer mode and he keeps attacking you — he won’t stop — and that’s good for me because it keeps me on my toes.”
Toes that the Kuchtas expect will be a bit elevated by the end of the season.