Being brothers who participate in the same sport offers several advantages for the wrestling Kusick twins, Marty and Mike.
For one, each always has a full-time sparring partner who is nearly his own size and who can match him move for move.
And whether their free-for-alls take place on the wrestling mats, in their living room or in the parking lot at Northeast High, one brother is always there to keep the other one on his toes.
Another advantage is that one brother can give the other a scouting report on common opponents. That's what happened for Mike in the May 3 Boonsboro freestyle tournament, where he pinned Frederick High's defending Class 4A/3A state champion Tim Novak en route to a runner-up finish.
That helped Mike earn a spot on the state's Cadet team, a select squad of 15- and 16-year-old wrestlers from across the state. The team leaves June 27 to participate in 10 days of national competition in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling in Columbia, "My brother had beat Novak, 8-5 [last winter], so I felt pretty good going into the match," said Mike, who at age 15 and 108 pounds, is 2 minutes older and slightly heavier than Marty (103 1/2 pounds). "Marty told me what Novak does in a match, so I knew I would come out on top. We do that for each other a lot of times."
Their freshman year of wrestling success at Northeast included county championship victories for each Kusick, a regional title and third-place Class 2A/1A finish for Marty, and regional and state runner-up finishes for Mike.
The Kusicks and 121-pound Northeast teammate Steve Smiddy have continued to compete in open folk style, freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments with the Cadet team.
They are three of the four county wrestlers who will wrestle in the Cadet Nationals, with Greco-Roman competition beginning on June 29 and freestyle on July 2.
Smiddy, the Kusicks and 121-pounder Chris Morrow, who just completed the eighth grade at George Fox Middle, will compete for the state's Cadet team.
"They only take two guys per weight class, and the other guy in my weight is my future teammate [Smiddy]," said Morrow, 15, who will be a freshman at Northeast next year.
"This is my first year as a Cadet, so I love being good enough to be accepted on the team. There aren't a lot of guys who can go, so these are some of the best guys in the state."
Meanwhile, Broadneck graduate Shawn Miller and Pasadena resident Shane McCarthy have earned spots on the state's Junior team, a select statewide team of wrestlers who are high school seniors or older. The team leaves July 17 to compete in the July 19-25 Junior Nationals in St. Paul, Minn.
"This is probably one of the strongest teams we've fielded in a long while," said Cornell Bass, director for the Maryland State Wrestling Association, which sponsors the two teams.
Miller (at 117 this summer) was a first-team All-Metro selection and the Anne Arundel County Sun's Wrestler of the Year after winning the 119-pound, Class 4A/3A state title last winter with a 35-0 record. The three-time county and two-time Region IV champion is headed for Lock Haven University and placed fourth in the National High School championships last April.
McCarthy (at 142) will enter his senior season at Mount St. Joseph this fall and has a three-year, 98-19 record for the Gaels.
After winning consecutive Maryland Scholastic Association titles in his freshman and sophomore seasons, McCarthy underwent some growing pains. A weightlifting regimen caused him to beef up from 119 -- where he wrestled as a sophomore -- to 135 last year.
McCarthy ended up losing all five of the tournament titles he had won the previous two seasons, including two losses each to first-team All-Metro and MSA champions John Kim (Gilman, 36-0) and Gary Mryncza (Archbishop Curley). Kim, to whom McCarthy was an MSA runner-up last winter, won the National Prep title.
"Last year was kind of a rough year," said McCarthy, who placed fourth in the National Prep tournament. "Even though I was bigger, there was an adjustment to the strength of the other guys, and I didn't start catching on until the end of the year."
This year, McCarthy finished first in the Annapolis Open tournament and second in three more Maryland State Wrestling Association sponsored tournaments.
At Annapolis, he defeated Oakland Mills' three-time Howard County champion Adam Seidman, avenging a loss to Seidman in last winter's Annapolis High tournament.
McCarthy also has split bouts with Aberdeen's Matt Slutzky, who last winter became the first four-time state high school 'u champion.