Watterson High School wrestling coach Tommy Martin knows firsthand how difficult it is to excel in more than one sport at the prep level, having competed four years in both baseball and wrestling.
Thus, the first-year coach and 2008 Watterson graduate has been impressed by seniors Mark and Michael Guza. Not only have the twins emerged as the Eagles' top wrestlers this season, but they are four-sport athletes who also have excelled in the classroom, with both maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
Mark has an 21-8 record at 126 pounds and Michael is 26-9 at 132.
"I thought it was difficult to balance my time between playing two sports and doing well in school, so it's been surprising to see what Mark and Mike have been able to do," Martin said. "They lead the team by example and they are the perfect example of what having a great work ethic can do for you. They started out here as freshmen, knowing nothing about wrestling and have built themselves into guys who consistently place in the top three of tournaments.
"The younger guys on our team really look up to them because they're the first guys in the room helping to get practice started and they never stop during drills to talk. They are the hardest workers in the room and they are seeing the benefits of their work ethic this season."
In addition to competing in wrestling for four years, the Guzas have played tennis the past three years, qualifying for the Division II district tournament in 2012 and 2013 as a doubles team.
Mark also competed in cross country for four years and was one of the Eagles' top three runners each of the past two seasons, and he began competing in track and field last spring in addition to playing tennis.
Michael played soccer for four years, starting at center midfield last season while helping Watterson advance to the Division II state final, where it lost to Richfield Revere 2-0. He also ran cross country as a senior, emerging as the Eagles' No. 4 runner.
"It's hard to find many three-sport athletes these days, so to have two kids involved in four sports is really out of the ordinary," cross country and boys track and field coach Matt McGowan said. "Both of them are great students and are doing well in all four sports, so they really are once-in-a-lifetime athletes."
The Guzas said they draw inspiration from their parents, David and Nancy, and their older brother, Matt.
David is a retired naval flight officer and Nancy is a retired Navy nurse. Matt graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2012 and is serving as a naval flight officer.
"Our family has set the bar high with their work ethic, so Michael and I put our hearts into everything we do and always strive to be the best we can be," Mark said. "When you have family members who are willing to put their lives on the line for their country, it makes you want to get the best out of yourself every day."
Matt, a 2008 Watterson graduate, competed in cross country, wrestling and tennis for the Eagles.
"Our older brother is really smart and hard working," Mark said. "In the back of our minds, we always want to live up the expectations he set for us with his accomplishments so we don't look bad."
Even though the Guza brothers battle each other in practice every day, they rarely bicker and say they are always there to support each other.
Last season, Michael placed fourth at 126 in a Division II sectional tournament at Licking Heights to qualify for district for the first time, but he was disappointed when his brother went 2-2 and placed fifth at 132 to fall one spot shy of a district berth.
"Sometimes things can get heated when we're competing in any sport, but it's only because we're both trying to help each other get better," Michael said. "I had mixed emotions about making it to district last year because I didn't want to make it if Mark didn't. But our coach always says that champions come in pairs, and since Mark and I drill together every day, I felt like we were both out there together because I couldn't have done it without him."
The Guzas, who are vying to become Watterson's first state qualifiers since Martin reached state in 2008 at 119, plan to play tennis again in the spring, and both intend to major in engineering in college.
Both have been accepted to Ohio State, but they might choose to attend different universities.
"It's definitely going to be a shock if we go our separate ways because I've never gone more than four days without seeing Mark before," Michael said. "We do almost everything together and obviously we're real close."
With their wrestling careers winding down, Mark said he and Michael have learned to value every moment they spend together.
"This is our last year wrestling and playing tennis together, so we're trying to savor it and make sure it's special," Mark said. "It will be tough if we do split up after high school, but we'll always stay in touch and be there for each other. No matter what we choose to do in life, we'll always support each other."
Girls basketball team set for Ready rematch
The girls basketball team will be looking to avenge a 43-30 loss to Ready on Dec. 12 when it plays host to the Silver Knights in a CCL game Thursday, Jan. 23.
Watterson, which rode a three-game winning streak into its game against Westerville South on Jan. 21, defeated Hartley 68-42 on Jan. 16 to improve to 9-4 overall and 3-2 in the league.
Makenzie Bevins had a team-high 16 points against Hartley, with Sydney Mayle and Brynn McQuade adding 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Eagles defeated Chillicothe 50-29 on Jan. 13, getting 16 points from Bevins and nine from Maggie McCarthy.
Boys basketball team rebounds from loss
The boys basketball team bounced back from a 56-43 loss to Middletown on Jan. 11 to win its next two games.
Watterson, which had its program-record 31-game winning streak snapped by the loss, beat Westerville North 62-52 on Jan. 18 to improve to 10-1 overall.
Cody Calhoun scored 11 of his season-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Eagles, who erased an 11-point deficit in the final 10 minutes by ending the game on a 21-2 run.
Joey Diorio and Andy Grieser each added 11 points for the Eagles, who are 3-0 in the CCL.
Watterson defeated Columbus Academy 71-56 on Jan. 14, as Grieser had 19 points, Diorio scored 15 and Avery Janning scored 12.