Raw talent and genetics may play a part, but a wrestler’s outstanding success really comes down to this: practice, practice, practice.
Just ask fraternal twin brothers Connor and Camden Padgett. Each seems to put in equal effort but said the other’s wrestling style is “completely different” from their own.
“Connor relies on his length to do a lot of moves,” Camden said. “I do different moves because I am shorter and I can’t rely on my length.”
Conversely, where Connor likes to wrestle “from the outside some,” he said Camden prefers to “work the tie all the time,” and he laughed as he said, “Camden needs to learn to move his feet more.”
Each Padgett brother can anticipate the other’s moves in practice. Each said the other helped them improve particular aspects of their wrestling.
“Wrestling is something that you have to do to understand all the nuisances of,” their dad Mike said. “The boys know more about wrestling than I do.”
An assistant coach on Hillsboro’s club wrestling team, Mike said his twin sons are as different as any two wrestlers might be.
“Cam strives for perfection more than Connor does,” Mike said. “Connor just beats kids up and he pins a ton. Cam doesn’t pin as many. He is a more methodical and technical wrestler. He doesn’t make mistakes and he doesn’t give competitors much room to make mistakes.”
Where Camden favors a blast double leg takedown and a half nelson to pin competitors, Connor prefers a low single leg takedown and a double chicken-wing pinning combo.
Both like their takedowns because of the swift speed and efficiency they have developed using them.
Camden said a half-nelson pin works at every level of competition, even college.
Connor likes the double chicken wing pin because it’s “really, really hard” for competitors to escape once he ensnares them in it.
With Camden terming the sport “amazing” and Connor calling it “the best sport that has ever been created,” the Padgett brothers share an almost identical enthusiasm for the individual aspects of wrestling competition.
“It’s fun,” Camden said. “You can’t rely on anyone else; you can only rely on yourself.”
Connor echoed his brother’s sentiments.
“To be successful, you can’t rely on other people,” Connor said. “To be good at it you have to work at it.”
And practice they have.
Now sixth grade students at Hillsboro Middle School, Camden and Connor have been wrestling since they were Kindergartners.
Mike said the boys wrestled a few times without much success in their first year; however, returning for a second season, both qualified for state in the 8-and-under age group.
“Camden was undefeated and Connor had a good year too,” Mike said. “They didn’t do too well at state, but they told me afterwards, ‘Dad we want to go back to state and we don’t want to lose.’”
Determined to improve, the Padgetts delved deeper into the world of wrestling.
Mike said he and his wife, Shelly, started rigorously shuttling their boys to different wrestling academies, workshops, and clubs in Emporia, Manhattan, and Kansas City at least once a week, getting to know a community of wrestling families.
Practice paid off.
“Returning for their third year, Camden was state champion and Connor was runner up,” Mike said.
Logging separate victories along the way, the brothers encouraged each other along the way, as wrestling became their year-round passion.
A committee recently selected the Padgett twins along with other Hillsboro Wrestling Club members to compete for Team Kansas in a seven-state grappling bout called the Southern Plains Elementary Duals this February in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“The goal of the selection committee was to form three Kansas teams consisting of the top elementary school wrestlers in the state,” coach Scott O’Hare said. “Kansas has formed three teams. Camden will wrestle in the 85-pound weight class for Kansas Blue and Connor will compete at 110 pounds for Kansas Red.”
Sibling rivalry also may have spurred on the Padgett brothers’ competitive natures and lead to some of their success.
“There is a big difference in size between them,” Shelly said. “It wasn’t until last year that they could practice with each other without fighting and trying to kill one another.”
Each boy is internally driven, Mike said, but tough, brotherly love also plays a part in training.
“One doesn’t ever want to let the other beat him,” Mike said. “Now, they work out every morning at 6 a.m. Their attitude seems to be ‘if he’s gonna do it then I better do it so he doesn’t get better than me.’”