Wrestling has been a part of the lives of Eli and Lucas Black for so long that neither has noticed how much time they have spent practicing, working out and competing in the sport.
"I don't think about it at all," Lucas said. "It's my favorite sport, and I want to do it."
Using a steady, year-round practice regimen, Eli, a junior, and Lucas, a freshman, have developed into two of the area's premier wrestlers.
Eli entered this weekend's Maryland 4A/3A championship tournament with a 33-0 record at the 152-pound category. Lucas is undefeated in his first high school season, winning all 31 of his matches at 103 pounds heading into this weekend (a full report on the tournament will appear in Thursday's Southern Maryland Extra).
They are the first wrestlers in Chopticon Coach Dave Kramer's 21 years to have reached the state tournament with an unbeaten record.
"What helps is that they get along with each other," Kramer said. "They're supportive of each other and they help each other. And that's a good thing."
Eli and Lucas are following the footsteps of their older brother, Garrett, a former standout at Chopticon who won 128 matches in high school before wrestling for a year at the University of Maryland.
Garrett was the 2000 All-Extra Wrestler of the year and a second-team All-Met after the 2000 season, when he finished second in the state at 140 pounds.
Garrett began wrestling competitively 10 years ago, when Eli was 6 years old and Lucas 4. Eli and Lucas used to follow Garrett to practice and soon got involved in the sport, competing for club teams and attending to camps. They have been immersed ever since.
"I practice a lot, because practicing is the only way you're going to get better," Eli said. "Sometimes I don't really notice how much I've been practicing."
Eli, a two-time All-Extra, was a second-team All-Met last year at 135 pounds and already has won 100 matches in his career. This season he has had few challenges at 152 pounds, cruising to the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference and 4A/3A South Region titles.
After losing only two matches in 2001-02 -- one in the state final -- Eli participated for the Maryland national team this summer at the highly competitive Freestyle and Greco Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D.
"Eli isn't the fastest or strongest wrestler," Kramer said. "But because he wrestles year-round, 12 months of the year, he is a very good technical wrestler, and that's what separates him."
Lucas quickly has achieved success similar to his brothers. Despite a broken left wrist that has nagged him for the past month, Lucas had little trouble in becoming SMAC and region champion among 103-pounders.
"My brothers have taught me a lot," Lucas said. "If we go to different camps, we'll share things we learned with each other. It's pretty much been a part of my life since I can remember."