WEBSTER CITY - At some point, maybe three or four years from now, Ted Larson is going to makes his sales pitch. The Webster City wrestling coach has never had a girl snap on the headgear and step onto the mat in one of his purple and gold Lynx singlets, but this may be the diamond in the rough.
Halle Patten, get ready. You're only 10 years old, but when you are a full-blooded member of this generation's first family of
Lynx wrestling there will always be the lingering questions.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City senior Brandon Patten (top) picks up one of his 23 wins this season against Hampton-Dumont’s Logan Chipp last month. Patten and older brother Tyler have combined for 199 career victories for the Lynx.
Could she? Would she?
"I wish I could get Halle to wrestle," Larson said. "I've never had a girl, but I'd sure take her. Think about how many wrestling matches she's seen over the years?"
It's no secret - the Patten family has been good to the WCHS wrestling program. First there was Tyler, the school's all-time wins leader and only grappler ever to place in the top three at the traditional state tournament four times, and now it's Brandon's turn; he may not have the career resume of big bro, but the lanky 182-pound senior has proven time and time again this season that there's more than one Patten that can dominate.
Who: Webster City (15-3, 5-1 NCC) at Eagle Grove (2-6, 1-5 NCC).
What: North Central Conference dual
Time: 7 p.m.
Webster City Lynx Lineup
106 - Derrick Khaleck, so. (3-15). 113 - Cole Nokes, so. (11-13). 120 - Freddie Seeley, jr. (16-13). 126 - Carter Rholl, so. (0-5). 132 - Gage Sadler, so. (1-2). 138 - Ryan Ferrari, so. (13-10). 145 - Jacob Powers, sr. (24-4). 152 - Tanner Hild, sr. (13-4). 160 - Alex Oswald, sr. (20-5). 170 - Connor Larson, sr. (23-5). 182 - Brandon Patten, sr. (23-7). 195 - Dylan Fielder, sr. (23-1). 220 - Gus Gasca, sr. (23-6). 285 - Gavin Dinsdale, so. (24-3).
"I think he's doing really well. From the matches I've seen this year he's definitely come a long way," Tyler, now a redshirt sophomore wrestler at UNI, said when asked about his kid brother. "I think he's got the potential to do some big stuff this year, so I'm pretty excited to watch him.
"I think it's probably tough on him sometimes (to follow in Tyler's shoes), but it's got to be a mindset that he wants to go out and do it for him. He can't worry about living up to anything; he's just got to go out and make his own legacy."
Brandon goes into Thursday's 7 p.m. dual at Eagle Grove with 60 career victories, needing just one more to give the family a combined 200 (Tyler was an astonishing 139-19 from 2008-11). He's currently 23-7 this winter with 12 pins and 19 victories that included bonus points.
Not bad for a young man that was a basketball player until peer pressure forced him into the overheated wrestling room.
"I wrestled when I was little, but I played basketball until the eighth grade," Brandon said. "I went out (for wrestling) because of (Tyler), otherwise I'd still be playing basketball. But sometimes it's hard because you want to live up to what he did."
Larson uses the word "slick" over and over again to describe Tyler's mat skills. He possess it, whatever it is, and while Brandon may not have been born a natural wrestler that doesn't mean he works any less at his craft.
"Things came easier on the mat for Tyler than they did Brandon, but Brandon has come so far in the last year that it's unreal," Larson said. "I know these kids like they're my own and the only thing that's been difficult is when I see the hurt in Brandon's eyes ... he's always been so hard on himself, whereas Tyler could let it run right off his back."
But Tyler - a two-time state runner-up and two-time bronze medalist - also had an unfair advantage that Brandon had no control over. Tyler was small, competing at 103 pounds as a freshman and never above 135; Brandon began his freshman campaign at 140 and has only gotten bigger.
"It's definitely more difficult for him. I remember when I was wrestling my freshman year it was really the same guys that grew up with me. I was usually wrestling guys my own age, so that made it a lot harder for him coming in," Tyler said
"Wrestling is a tough sport," Larson said. "If you're a little guy, it's a little easier to have four years of success in high school. When you're a big guy thrown in there, you're battling the old guys right away."
Brandon - shy when talking about himself, just like Tyler was in high school - doesn't use his size as a crutch. Sure, he took some lumps coming up through the ranks, but those setbacks have only made him stronger. He doesn't duck challenges; he thrives on them, like when he threw fifth-ranked (Class 2A) Connor Nosbisch of Clear Lake in one of his patented cradles last week and nearly decked him before going on to win.
"I just want to show everyone that I can do it, too," Brandon said.
Unlike his older brother, Brandon has no desire to wrestle at the collegiate level. Although there was a time - in the year following his high school graduation - that Tyler said the same thing. Burned out from more years than he could count of getting his ears torn to shreds, Tyler gave up the sport.
But that itch returned.
"I love college wrestling. I really missed it my freshman year and it really opened my eyes to realize that this is what I want to do," Tyler, who is 17-8 for the Panthers this season, said. "I'm really glad the Schwabs (head coach Doug and assistant coach Mark) gave me the opportunity to come back."
Tyler stepped into the lineup on Saturday and notched a 9-4 victory over Scott Mattingly at 149 pounds to help UNI topple Central Michigan, 25-14, in a dual that kept the Panthers unbeaten.
Anyone that saw Tyler wrestle in high school witnessed his immense talent. But he's taken those skills to another level since he left Webster City.
"I would say, technically, I'm 100 percent better than I was in high school," Tyler said. "I'm definitely a lot stronger. In high school I stayed away from the weight room and that's a big change."
Tyler still has to look up - way up, actually - to stare into his brother's eyes. He gives up more than 25 pounds, too, so what would happen if the siblings were to shake hands in the center circle and go to battle?
Everyone questioned agreed ... sorry, Brandon.
"It would probably be a pretty close match. He's getting some thickness to him, but I think I'd still take him," Tyler said.
"Tyler has so much offense, but I tell you what, he's going to have his hands full the next time he comes into that room because Brandon has really come along in the last couple of months. But, yeah, it would be Tyler," Larson said.
"When we were younger he always beat on me and I told him that someday I'd be bigger than him," Brandon said. "But he'd probably beat me because he's got way more technique than me and he's way quicker."
Fun personal rivalries aside, Larson wants everyone to know one thing: the Patten boys have helped bring immense riches to the Lynx program, but they're so much more than just great wrestlers.
They're great kids.
"These two kids have so much more to offer than what they've done on the mat," he said. "They've left a long mark with me. The whole family has."
There's no question, parents Al and Michelle Patten have raised their boys the right way and they've done it while always cheering, but never pressuring. They're fixtures inside gymnasiums on Thursdays and Saturdays, although now it's a little more difficult with one boy competing in high school and the other in college.
But, somehow, they make it work.
"This is a family that has invested so much into these kids and the program," Larson said. "They're a true wrestling family that Webster City has been blessed with and I've been personally blessed with.
"My own son (senior fourth-ranked 170-pounder Connor Larson) and Brandon are pretty tight, and Connor grew up following Tyler. I always told Al that if my son grows up and has the same attributes as his boys, then we've been pretty successful."
Well done, Pattens.
Well done indeed.
So now, Halle, about starting your wrestling career ...