It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that Hartley senior twins Michael Petrella and Joey Petrella practically were bred to be successful in wrestling given that the sport has been such a big part of their family's life for several decades.

Even what occurred on the day the brothers were born, Feb. 28, 2002, is symbolic of what was to come.

That afternoon, their oldest brother, Kevin Petrella, was participating in the opening day of the Division III state tournament while their father, Paul Petrella, who was Hartley's coach at the time, was at the hospital as their mother, Barbara Petrella, delivered them.

While spending time at the hospital with his newborns, Paul, who coached the Hawks from 1999-2003 and again from 2006-09 and now serves in the program as an assistant and youth coach, tried to find out as soon as possible how Kevin had fared in his first state match earlier that day.

"I was wrestling at the state tournament and my stepmom was in labor," said Kevin, a 2003 Hartley graduate who is in his 11th season as coach after serving five seasons as an assistant. "I wrestled at probably around 3 o'clock that day. My dad kept calling one of the assistant coaches who was only a couple years older than I was and asked him how I did, and he told him I lost even though I won, just messing with him."

According to Paul, the story was actually worse.

"(The assistant) says, '(Kevin) got killed in the first match,' " Paul said. "He got fifth that year and wrestled really well.

"Those poor boys, Michael and Joey, had no chance (but to wrestle). From day one (their older brothers) were on them. I didn't have to say much."

In addition to Kevin, the twins have an older sister as well as two other older brothers, Tony and Vincent.

Their father started the family's wrestling legacy by finishing third at 167 pounds in the Class AAA state tournament in 1975 for Mansfield Senior and went on to capture the Division III national title at 177 in 1978 for Baldwin Wallace before placing third in the same weight class in 1979.

After placing fifth at state as a junior, Kevin became the second wrestler in Hartley history to earn a state runner-up finish when he placed second at 160 as a senior. John Eramo was the first Hawks wrestler to do so while competing at 185 in the 1980 Class AA state tournament.

Kevin finished his prep career 139-30 and left the program as its record-holder for pins in a season with 25, while Tony, a 2006 Hartley graduate, earned a state runner-up finish at 152 as a senior and Vincent, a 2008 Hartley graduate, was a three-time district qualifier who reached state as a senior at 145.

"(Wrestling has) meant everything," Joey said. "I don't know where I'd be without wrestling, to be honest with you. It's shown me how to get a great work ethic, perseverance, mental toughness. It's the greatest sport on Earth."

Michael and Joey have lived up to the family tradition the past few years.

Michael is 12-2 on the season while competing at 120 and 126 and expects to compete at 120 in the postseason as he looks to become a three-time state placer. After qualifying for district as a freshman, he placed seventh at state each of the past two seasons and has a career record of 139-29.

Joey is a three-time district qualifier who is 13-3 this season and 114-37 for his career. He went 2-2 at district last season.

Hartley will seek its seventh consecutive CCL championship when it competes against Ready and DeSales on Thursday, Jan. 23, at St. Charles and against Watterson and St. Charles on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at home.

According to Michael, the bonds of being on the same team with his twin brother as well as being coached by his older brother and having their father continue to work with the program has been special.

"To be honest, I like it because when I was little, I felt like (Kevin) didn't talk to me much, so we've gotten closer," Michael said. "I'm a two-time state placer and hopefully I can win it this year."

While Michael has been considering Baldwin Wallace, Gannon and Notre Dame College as schools he might compete for at the next level, Joey is interested in Baldwin Wallace and Gannon but also is considering Campbell.

"I've always looked up to (my older brothers)," Joey said. "They've been really good at wrestling, so I've always wanted to be like them and have a successful career at Hartley."

Kevin isn't taking for granted the extra time he's gotten with his younger brothers the past four years.

"It's one of those experiences, for sure, that in 10- to 15-plus years when you look back on it, I'll think I was lucky to get to do that," Kevin said. "Sometimes you'll have four Petrellas in the same room, and my brother Tony will show up from West Virginia every once in a while so there will be five of us in there and we're very competitive people so we can go at it a little bit, but absolutely it's a great thing."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Hartley boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:

BOYS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 24 -- Home vs. DeSales. The Hawks lost to the Stallions 66-49 on Dec. 13.

Jan. 25 -- Home vs. Wellington

GIRLS BASKETBALL

*Jan. 23 -- Home vs. Watterson

*Jan. 27 -- Home vs. Ready

BOWLING

*Jan. 24 -- Columbus East at HP Lanes

*Jan. 27 -- Beechcroft at Holiday Lanes

SWIMMING & DIVING

Jan. 25 -- CCL meet at St. Charles

WRESTLING

Jan. 23 -- CCL duals at St. Charles

Jan. 25 -- Watkins Memorial Invitational

Jan. 29 -- CCL duals at home

*League contest