Finals will be a family affair for two sets of brothers
Stars and Stripes February 3, 2024
STUTTGART, Germany – Spangdahlem’s Eli Hulet had completed his task already, winning the heavyweight class at a DODEA European sectional Saturday afternoon. But he couldn’t relax just yet.
The third-place matches at Stuttgart High School were running a bit behind, and his brother, Hudson, was squaring off in one of them. The top three placers in each weight class advance to next week’s European championships in Wiesbaden.
So, Hudson Hulet needed to beat Hohenfels’ Brian David to join his older brother. And that left the senior Hulet a little nervous.
“I’ve wrestled him all week, and I’m looking for moves we learned,” Eli Hulet said. “It’s more stressful watching him than me actually wrestling.”
It turned out the older Hulet didn’t need to be concerned. Hudson pinned David in 47 seconds to also punch his ticket to the European championship meet in the heavyweight division.
His victory came minutes after Eli pinned Stuttgart’s Cyrus Montandon in 1:18.
“It’s going to be a great experience,” Hudson said of both Hulets going to Euros. “We’ve never had this kind before. He’s excited; I’m excited. We’re glad that we can both go.”
The irony: Eli put his brother in that predicament in the first place.
The duo ended up in the same half of the bracket and met the semifinal. Hudson, a junior, said it was just the second time all season the duo faced each other.
In the semifinal, the undefeated Eli proved Hudson’s claim that he “probably would lose” to him by putting Hudson on the backfoot early. Yet, the younger Hulet managed to squirm his way out of a few hairy situations before the elder pinned him right at the buzzer of the first period.
“It’s way harder than a normal match,” Eli said of wrestling Hudson. “He knows all my moves. So, I have to switch it up and do moves I’m not used to. Especially when we’re top-bottom, none of my moves work, and I just have to move him around until I find something I can do.”
The Hulets weren’t the only sibling pair to advance out of the Stuttgart sectional.
Vilseck’s Christopher and Johnathan Wissemann finished second and first at 126 and 113, respectively, to book their places in Wiesbaden.
Christopher, a senior, has qualified for the European meet twice already, finishing fifth his sophomore season and fourth his junior campaign. Johnathan is making his first trip in his first year of eligibility.
“This is probably the biggest thing I can do,” Johnathan said. “I’m really happy I can be with my brother and that we’re both going to Euros together. I look up to him quite a bit.”
While the freshman may look up to the senior, Christopher mentioned he doesn’t do much mentoring, leaving it to the Falcon coaching staff.
Johnathan credited his coaches for helping him get out of a rough patch in the 113 final against Stuttgart’s Dominick Welsh. The Falcon and Panther went back and forth in the first frame, with Welsh coming close to earning the pin at the end.
Johnathan managed to hold out using his endurance (he runs cross country in the fall) and recalling the work in practice involving bridge moves to keep his shoulder off the ground.
The Vilseck freshman bounced back in the second period and produced the fall at 2:27.
“There’s maybe one, maybe two things I see every match I try to talk to him about, but he knows how to do it,” Christopher said of Johnathan. “He can get through anything, overpower anyone out there. So, I don’t need to give him too much guidance at all.”
Christopher, meanwhile, ran into a buzzsaw with Kaiserslautern’s Joshua Kim. The two had met twice previously, and Christopher said he has difficulty matching Kim’s strength. The match ended with a Kim pin at 2:42.
Still, Christopher, who said he’s 7 pounds underweight for his class, said he can learn a thing or two from his brother. The two spar occasionally at the beginning of practices despite the weight difference and Christopher described Johnathan as a more technical wrestler.
Christopher could use that skillset as he looks to take another step up the podium next weekend.
“Usually, it comes with one of us being upset at the other during practice for going a little too hard,” Christopher said of how the brothers push each other. “For both of us, it’s been an opportunity to grow and made us both better in the long run.”
The Hulets have the same beliefs regarding improving each other on the mat, but they also face the prospect of meeting at least one more time at the European championships.
Should that happen, all thoughts of brotherly love will disappear – at least for 6 minutes.
“I hate to say, but I’m not going to let him win at all if we wrestle,” Eli said.