For Steve Staudt, treating his wrestling team like a family has always been a goal of his.
So, in the rare occasion where his Forest City squad has three members from the same clan, that goal comes closer to reality.
This year, brothers Brock and Kellen, along with their cousin, Reese, are helping to lead the Indians by example, not only through work ethic, but performance, as well.
"This is something kind of new to us. We haven't had a lot of brothers or cousins on the same team," Staudt said. "It's strange, but it's worked really well for us and I'd take it again."
Wrestling is a unique sport. While each member of the team must perform as an individual, no team can succeed without a sense of camaraderie.
To Staudt, that responsibility starts with his wrestlers.
"The more you care about each other and fight for each other, the better you're going to do as a team," he said. "As soon as everyone's got everyone else's back, your success goes up really quick."
Brock, a junior and oldest of the three, says its easy to lead the team because he knows Kellen and Reese will step in to help.
"I know that they have my back, so if I try to get the team to do something, they help me out and then [the team] kind of just goes along with it," he said. "I think that helps the team, chemistry-wise. It's a big deal."
All three cousins have been wrestling from an early age. Reese said their fathers introduced them to the sport when they were around 4 years old.
"Our dads got together and thought we should try wrestling and ever since, we've loved it and we've been together and just kept wrestling," he said.
Brock, who is one weight class away from his freshman brother Kellen, said having him on the team has been vital to his own success.
"Having my brother in the room and helping me out and having a proper practice partner after practice is over is a big key of mine for this season," Brock said.
Once the action begins on the mat, Kellen said they can all count on each other for support.
"Say I get a big win, and my brother's right after me. He's going to be all hyped because he's going to be watching me," Kellen said. "So, he's going to go out there and just have a lot of adrenaline, and then Reese will be in right after."
Brock pointed to a recent dual with Lake Mills where this dynamic was key.
"Kellen won a big match and kind of got me motivated because I was the next match up," he said. "So that just gets me motivated even more just to go out there and hustle hard and try to win."
Building on what the team has accomplished this year, the Indians jump into the postseason on Saturday, where they will wrestle in the Top of Iowa Conference Tournament at Osage High School.
Brock, along with senior Kristian Gunderson, were district qualifiers last season, but each fell short of a trip to state.
"If we get the kids to believe they're as good as we know they are, we could end up with three to five guys at state," Staudt said.
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