Believe it or not, there is an advantage of being the picked-on little brother.
For all of the times Brian Andrews came on the short end of wrestling battles with his older brother Blake on the mat, the byproduct is hanging on the wall in his bedroom. Well, make that three byproducts.
They are the gold medals he has claimed for winning the Class 5A state wrestling championship in his weight classification.
In 2015, Andrews won the state title in the 195-pound division. In 2016 and this past weekend in Austin, Andrews stood at the top of the podium after winning the heavyweight title. Back-to-back-to-back is rarely seen. So when it does happen, it deserved a bro hug.
“Honestly, the physical style of the sport really came from my brother,” Brian said. “He beat me a lot out there on the mat. I learned a lot about how to wrestle. Definitely, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. He’s why.”
Andrews defeated Peyton Stafford of Amarillo by a score of 5-1 to win the state title, and coach Matt Criner said Andrews has not simply had a good season.
“Brian has had a great season and moreover, a great high school career,” Criner said. “Not many people earn the right to be a state champ. Brian has worked hard enough to be be in the position to be a three time state champion. He has excelled not only at the state level, but the national level as well. Brian is also a three time high school All-American.”
While he may have surrendered some size and strength, Andrews marched through the weekend state tournament in commanding fashion. He pinned Georgetown East’s Alan Velasquez in the opening match, defeated Bryan Rudder’s Bailey Reid in the second match and easily handled Richmond Foster’s Chidozie Nwankwo in the semifinals, before the title match. In the four matches, Andrews surrendered two points.
For the season, Andrews finished 41-0. He completed his high school career at 167-5 but 133-1 over the final three seasons. That’s setting the bar and a winning percentage of .971.
“I was in control and took things early in the first period,” Andrews said. “In the title match, I was able to turn [Stafford] a couple of times. I think my technique really has made the difference.”
The times where Andrew drilled moves, escapes and takedowns over and over and over produced the track run. As long as he was quicker, he was going to gain the advantage.
“It was a great feeling,” Andrews said. “I know I had a tough opponent, but I took what was there and got the win. And winning Most Outstanding Wrestler was another plus. My senior year, my coaches helped me out a lot training and practicing hard everyday and it paid off in the long run. Now it's time to get ready for the next level and start training for that.”
Andrews is going to take these skills on to college. For a time he debated about whether he wanted to play football in college. He had every reason to consider it. Andrews had made himself into a bona fide nose tackle who could dominate. Because of his height (6-2), it never really gained major attention from Division I schools. Several FCS and Division II schools showed some interest. That’s how far it progressed.
But he will eventually compete at the Division I level. Andrews will go to Oklahoma State but will spend the 2017-18 season at Northeast Oklahoma A&M College, a junior college, in Miami, OK. He will then transfer to OSU where Blake is.
Andrews will wrestle at the heavyweight division. But the particulars will be sorted once he arrives in Stillwater, OK in the fall of 2018.
“I look at what I did in high school as another stepping stone to the next level,” he said. “Wrestling gave me several Division I offers. That’s what I’ve been working for. I couldn’t have done it without Blake.”
Criner said one of the missions for him is to place his wrestlers against the highest competition during the regular season to prepare his athletes for the ultimate prize.
For Andrews, that mission was accomplished.
“Our wrestling schedule at Grapevine High School is every competitive, with very tough tournaments both in state and out of state,” Criner said. “The goal of this difficult schedule is to provide our wrestlers with an intense preparation for the state tournament.”
- John English contributed to this report.
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