DES MOINES | Lake Mills’ Caiden Jones and Slade Sifuentes are the odd couple. Or you could just call them the team's version of "Step Brothers."
That’s because they are.
The littlest guy on the team — Jones at 106 — and the most dominant — Sifuentes at 195 — have been step brothers for over a decade now.
After Lake Mills wrestling meets, it was common to see Jones perched atop Sifuentes’ shoulders, both grinning from ear to ear.
On Thursday, the duo felt what winning at the state tournament was like together.
Lake Mills has all six of its wrestlers alive after Day 1 of the Class 1A state meet, and Jones and Sifuentes won their openers to reach the quarterfinal round.
“You can’t break us apart,” said Sifuentes, who won by fall in his opener at 195 to begin his quest for a repeat. “We are always together. It’s more than just a brotherhood. We are way closer than that. We’ve always got along pretty well, and we’ve had each other’s back all the way. I love that kid.”
This tournament is the latest chapter in an evolving relationship between the two.
Sifuentes’ dad and Jones’ mom have been together for more than a decade, and it’s developed a special relationship between two of Lake Mills’ top wrestlers.
On the mat, they’ve lost a total of two times this season, and Jones' technique has drawn rave reviews from Sifuentes, who hasn't lost since his sophomore season.
Off the mat, sometimes they replicate the characters in the hit movie “Step Brothers,” which they happened to watch Wednesday night.
“We are like them, except we have way more fun with activities,” Sifuentes joked, referring to a famous line in the movie.
The environment Thursday was nothing new to Sifuentes. It was for his teammates, however, but they all seemed to perform well. The Bulldogs sit tied for sixth in the 1A team standings after one session with 12 points. Don Bosco leads the team race with 22 points.
Lake Mills went 4-0 on the backside of the bracket Thursday, giving the team a possibility to have six placewinners.
Jones, ranked seventh, needed a little heroics to stay on the front side of his bracket as he scored a reversal in the closing seconds to secure a 4-3 win over Wapello’s ninth-ranked Bryce Meeker.
“I knew it was going to be a close match,” Jones asid. “My goal is to make it on that podium.”
And for coach Alex Brandenburg, all he wanted at the end of the day was to have all of his wrestlers still competing. Mission accomplished.
“Those four kids coming back will probably be underdogs, but that’s the round that upsets always happen,” Brandenburg said.