Although Cody and William Pickren both made it to the state tournament, the win at Regionals for the wrestling brothers was the highlight of their season.
"Just being on top of the podium with my brother, both of us winning, was a cool experience," said Cody, the older of the two, at 17. "He's a freshman, so it was his first year here. It was just a lot of fun enjoying it with my brother."
Cody and William, sons of Chris and Melinda Pickren of Santa Rosa Beach, are both on the wrestling team at South Walton High School.
The two Seahawks dominated on the mats at the Regionals, going a perfect 4-0 on the way to their titles. At the state meet in Lakeland last month, William, 15, placed second in the 106-pound weight class, while Cody finished up eighth in the state in the 145-pound weight class.
"State was a lot more nerve wrecking than I thought it would be," William said. "Every match was really tough. I just wrestled a really tough kid and he got me."
"It's definitely hard as a freshman, first time going in there," Cody said, backing up his brother. "The kid had really studied William and it showed."
The brothers practice together at school, but they never tangle with one another.
"No, I'm scared of Cody," William said
"I'm a little bit bigger than he is," Cody added.
However, Cody said he gives him a few pointers every now and then, but for the most part they take their lead from their coaches, Carey Nick and Darren Dunwald.
"They are always around to help," Cody said. "Plus our styles are so different."
Coach Nick was tickled to death to have the brothers on the team this year.
"Their leadership and their passion for wrestling … they just get some of the other kids fired up just watching them wrestle," Nick said.
Early on Nick knew he had a winning duo in the brothers.
"I knew they were something special when I saw them roll around and the way they handled themselves on and off the mat. They never got to high off a win and never got down on themselves after a loss, always on an even keel. Room to improve, very coachable and eager to learn — that's what it takes,” Nick said.
The brothers have their own reasons for choosing wrestling.
"It doesn't matter how good your team is; it's how good you are and how hard you want to work for it," Cody said. "It's surreal to be on the mat, there's nothing like it when you get your hand raised. It's an amazing experience."
"I like the individuality of the sport and knowing that it's you that did that," William added.
Hitting the mats
Although the boys just wrapped up their season at the state tournament about three weeks ago, they are already back on the mats.
"The season didn't end after state, a new one just began," Cody said.
Right now the brothers are practicing about twice a week, but after spring break, they plan to go three times a week.
During season the boys run about five to seven miles a day, plus put in two hours grappling.
"And you always have to watch what you eat for the weight class," William said.
When asked how they keep that in check, William replied, "diet and running."
"I eat a lot of chicken during season. We have poached eggs every morning … Dad makes those," William said.
"Our parents definitely help us out with that, they cook healthy for us," Cody added.
However, they are teenage boys.
"It's what I don't get to eat, that I don't like … I want to go eat some cookies every now and then, but you can't," William said.
"I miss the key lime pie from Nick's on the Beach," Cody added. "I always look forward to that after season."
But when it comes right down to it, giving up the cookies and pies for being the best they can be is well worth it.
"I wouldn't trade it for anything," Cody said.
"For sure," William added.