For these talented twins, rivalry is doubly intense

Wrestling: David and Mark Nakasone of Centennial are competitive on and off the mat, but they have similar interests and top-notch skills, and both are undefeated.

High Schools

January 12, 2003|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

The Nakasone twins, David and Mark of Centennial, are two of the best wrestlers in the state and a case study in sibling rivalry.

Each is always trying to surpass the other in everything they do. And they are constantly doing the same things, whether it's sports, playing the violin or Boy Scouts.

They have an antagonistic attitude toward each other that can be described as half-serious, half-joking.

"Sometimes it's hard to tell if they're serious," said their mother, Linda Nakasone. "They don't talk a lot. But they do root for each other at wrestling matches. I was a twin and I know that sibling rivalry is even worse with twins."

The senior brothers certainly don't have many good things to say about each other.

Mark said his brother, who was a state wrestling champion last season, "sometimes wrestles like a slug." This coming from a guy who finished third in the state.

David, whose violin playing ended in high school, said Mark, who still plays for the school orchestra, is a "terrible violinist."

When asked if they are friends, David replied, "I don't know. I don't talk to him that much. He has his own friends."

Although delivered by Caesarian section, David is technically a minute older than Mark. At 5 feet 4, David also is an inch taller.

David also has the state wrestling title to hold over Mark, as well as a better performance at last summer's junior-national wrestling tournament in Fargo, N.D. David came within one match of the medal round and All-America status.

In The Sun's wrestling rankings, David is No. 1 at 152 pounds and Mark is No. 2 at 145 pounds.

A year ago, during a fall tournament, they wrestled each other for the only time in real competition, and David won by a major decision.

"Mark can't beat me," said David, who also bench-presses 310 pounds - better than Mark's 255 pounds.

They are even when it comes to scouting. They have finished their Eagle Scout merit badge project - a restoration at Mt. Peasant Farm in Woodstock, where David organized a work group to repair a chicken coop and Mark organized a work group to repair a corn crib. Both need to complete paperwork before receiving their rank as Eagle Scouts.

They each have a bragging point in academics. Mark has a 3.8 cumulative grade-point average to David's 3.7. But David has a 1,160 SAT to Mark's 1,120.

"Mark is the more serious student," Linda Nakasone said. "He started studying a lot last year so he could beat David in grades."

After failing to win a state wrestling title, Mark also is putting in more time and effort trying to improve at the sport.

"Mark didn't take wrestling seriously until the end of last year," Linda said. "Now, he's doing all the extra work that David was doing. He's stepped it up."

If there is any doubt about the intense level of their rivalry, consider that the brothers played baseball, basketball and soccer during elementary and middle school. Then they both shifted to football, wrestling and lacrosse in high school.

Physical requirements cued the wholesale switch in sports.

"You needed long legs for soccer, and no one got cut in football. They lacked the height for basketball, and everyone said they had a good build for wrestling. I told them I didn't want them playing football or wrestling, but they just signed up," said Linda, who is now an ardent wrestling supporter who watches all their meets.

The fraternal twins played two years of football before quitting to focus on wrestling. David is a faceoff man in lacrosse, while Mark is a goalkeeper who should start this spring for the defending Class 2A-1A state champion.

But wrestling allowed them to be the most successful as athletes.

They are both 11-0 this season. David was 31-3 and Mark 31-6 last season. David has 76 career varsity wins and Mark has 61. Mark wrestled JV as a freshman while David made varsity.

Both are good on their feet, quick, strong, full of stamina and confident on takedowns. Mark, taken down just once all season, said he runs three miles a day. "I never get tired of wrestling," Mark said.

David's biggest win this season was over Travis Holmes of McDonogh, while Mark's toughest opponent was Mike Kessler of Owings Mills.

Mark did compliment David once. "Dave is good on his feet and can hit a cradle from anywhere," he said.

David, only the fifth state champion in Centennial history, said some people think he wrestles too slowly. "I like to plan things out," he said. "I attack, but most people think it's slow. I have fast moves and like to change pace a lot."

Both are two-time team captains, leading the No. 8-ranked Eagles to a 5-0 dual-meet start. The team finished second at the McDonogh Tournament and fourth at the Arundel Tournament, and the twins each won titles at those tournaments.

"They are good leaders who want the team to win and they push our other wrestlers," Centennial coach Todd DeCrispino said. "And if I have to put one of them against a tough wrestler, I feel that they'll come through for us. They'll give that extra effort to get the team points."

Will the rivalry stay intact after high school? Not so closely.

David wants to wrestle and study business and engineering at a large school such as Maryland. Mark wants to wrestle and study biochemistry at a small school such as McDaniel.

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