As freshmen, Kolby Mashack and Garth Lakitsky joined Tamaqua's varsity wrestling team and made an immediate impact.
Now seniors, the two Blue Raiders are in the process of etching their names in the record books as the school's all-time winningest grapplers by the time they are through.
Mashack is already atop the Tamaqua win list, with his 124 triumphs two more than previous record holder, 2000 graduate Andy Breiner, who has 122 victories. Lakitsky currently has 119, good for third place and counting.
As they enter the District 11 Championships this weekend, Mashack and Lakitsky have a sparkling combined record of 63-1.
Competing at 140 pounds, the Bucknell-bound Mashack is 31-1, with his lone loss to Pen Argyl State bronze medalist Michael Racciato at the District 11 Duals.
Lakitsky has been dominant at 215 pounds. The 2010 TIMES NEWS Wrestler of the Year is now 32-0, including 27 pins, with only three of them extending into the second period. The rest of his wins have been by forfeit and medical default, meaning that he has yet to have a bout go the distance this season.
It is not surprising that the Tamaqua tandem has been successful. Their fathers, Jon Mashack and Garth Lakitsky were two-time State qualifiers for the Raiders in 1985 and 1986, with Garth, Sr. earning third and fourth place medals.The sons are also two-time PIAA qualifiers, with Lakitsky placing fourth at States a year ago.
Tamaqua has yet to crown a State wrestling champion (Breiner was runner-up in 1999 and Matt Benza a silver medalist in 2001), but Mashack and Lakitsky are poised to make their postseason runs.
"Both Kolby and Garth are solid all-around kids and team leaders. It would be silly to say that (a state title) isn't a goal for both of them. I'd be disappointed if it wasn't," said Tamaqua coach Jim McCabe.
The District 11 tournament is where it begins. Both are seeking their first District titles. Lakitsky was a runner-up the past two seasons after placing fifth as a freshman, while Mashack has placed fourth in each of his three previous D-11 appearances.
"I feel I can do better," said Mashack. "This is my last year, so hopefully it is my best year. My goal is to go as far as I can go."
"Kolby has wrestled solid all year," said McCabe. "He is constantly working, always going for points. There is no easy way to slow him down, especially on top. He just wants to work you over."
At Districts, among Mashack's chief competition will likely be Bethlehem Catholic's Ryan Todora, Pen Argyl's Luciano Burriesci, Lehighton's Anthony Farole and Mahanoy Area's Nathan Fegley.
"I think (140) it is one of the deepest weight classes," said McCabe. "Kolby will have to aggressive, but not overaggressive. He has to wrestle his style and attack under control."
"I know how the balance the aggression, and I think it's worked for me," related Mashack.
Last season, Lakitsky wrestled at 189 pounds. This year, he has added muscle and is a solid 215-pounder, which has been to his advantage.
"One thing about Garth is that he is determined not to lose," mentioned McCabe. "He's a lot stronger this year, too.
"Last year, he let guys grab his legs, and he would fight them down to the mat. This year, he has changed his style a bit. He is more assertive. He attacks with shrugs and throws, and he's much more efficient."
"I feel a lot stronger because I don't need to cut weight, so I feel better with the whole deal," stated Lakitsky. "It has definitely given me a lot more confidence, but I'm not going into this like I am going to run through people. I have to wrestle the whole way through."
Along the way, Lakitsky has a shot at two other Breiner Tamaqua season milestones, for wins (39) and pins (30).
His biggest tests along the Road to Hershey could come at Regionals, possibly with Bermudian Springs' Matt Wolf and Schuylkill Valley's Mitch Moll from District 3. Lakitsky has scored falls over two other D-3 contenders, Wyomissing's Tyler Rank and Upper Dauphin's Chris Forney.
Lakitsky said he learned a lot from his experience at States last year, during which he advanced to the semifinals.
"You can never give up and you need to keep pushing the whole match," he remarked. "One of my matches (against Octorara's Nate Ronan) went into double overtime.
"I just want to go and get the job done. It (a State title) is definitely what I am working for at the end."