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The Gazette KCRG
Posted January 29, 2014
Fank Brothers take wrestling stage together

Wartburg's Ryan Fank is controlled by Joseph Zitone of Centenary in a 285 pound match during the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena in Cedar Rapids on Friday, March 15, 2013. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Ryan and Kyle Fank have never wrestled on the same team together.

They have trained together and watched each other in the past. The Fank brothers, however, will get the chance to compete on the same stage.

Ryan Fank is a heavyweight for Wartburg, while Kyle Fank is a senior for Independence High School and both will be under the same spotlight when Independence hosts West Delaware in a prep dual before the top-ranked Knights face Coe at Independence. Action begins at 6 p.m. with the second meet starting approximately at 7:30 p.m. Both duals will be televised live on KCRG 9.2.

“It’s going to be pretty cool,” said Kyle Fank, who is ranked third at 182 pounds in Class 2A by The Predicament. “It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.”

The event will be a homecoming for the older Fank. He has not wrestled in front of his hometown crowd since his senior night dual of the 2010 season, when he posted a 44-2 mark and claimed the 215-pound 2A state title.

“It’s definitely going to be nice to see everyone and be in the same place as my brother,” Ryan Fank said. “It means a lot. We’ve never been on the same team since we’re four years apart. It’s definitely cool.”

Family has always played a role in wrestling. Their father, Ron, introduced both to wrestling but they share a love for the sport. They have made an impact in the other’s career as well.

“Watching Ryan when I was younger made me want to wrestle, too,” Kyle Fank said. “He was a role model for me. The fact that he went out, dominated the match and looked for falls.”

Independence's Kyle Fank rides North Linn's Brendan Schott (from left) during the 170-pound finals bound at the Bobcat "Jerry Eckenrod" Invitational at Benton Community High School, 600 1st Ave, in Van Horne on Saturday, January 5, 2013. Schott defeated Fank 7-0. (Stephen Mally/Freelance)

A familiar face could always be found in attendance at prep events, motivating Ryan Fank. It was special to be followed by a younger sibling.

“He was always in the stands,” Ryan Fank said. “I talked to him after duals. He showed up to everything.”

The pair remains in close contact, exchanging texts and calls to brush up on upcoming competition. They even use Twitter to stay current on their siblings’ accomplishments. Ryan Fank will relish a chance to wrestle at the same event.

“I wish I could go back and watch him more since it’s his senior year,” Ryan Fank said. “We’re just both at two different points in our lives.”

As supportive as they are for one another, the Fank brothers produce their share of smack talk. Their different sizes prevent a lot of wrestling and working against each other, but they do compare resumes. Kyle Fank has more middle-school achievements through AAU tournaments. Ryan Fank does have a state title, though.

“It goes back and forth between us,” Kyle Fank said. “We talk about when he was in high school and how I’ve done at those tournaments. That’s a big thing. “I’m going for my second Wamac title (Saturday) and he only got one, so I can get that on him.

“That’s the match I want to see.”

Surprisingly, Ryan Fank is his brother’s biggest fan. He said he wants his brother to capture bragging rights, which means matching his prep feats and surpassing them in college when he follows his brother’s path to Wartburg next year.

It will take a lot of work, considering Ryan Fank is a two-time All-American and is tied for the most career pins in Knights history with 44. He is 28-1 this season, including a current 25-match win streak, and 107-28 in college.

“Plan is for him to shut me up and win it all,” Ryan Fank said. “I actually want him to shut me up and be better.”

Tonight could be a sign of things to come as both look to deliver wins. They are also striving to close out careers on their respective levels with championships.

“I’m chasing for a state title this year,” Kyle Fank said. “I know for him he’s looking for a national title. They are good goals for both of us. It would be really neat.”

It would be as neat as matching the other with a win against a rival team. Top-ranked Wartburg (14-0, 6-0 IIAC) will look to extend its 50-dual win streak and 171 in a row over Iowa Conference teams against Coe (12-3, 6-0). Independence, ranked 10th in 2A by the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association, tries to avenge some recent losses to No. 5 West Delaware and reclaim the Del-Buc Trophy that goes to the team winner between the Mustangs and Hawks.

“It’s going to be huge,” Kyle Fank said. “It’s going to be packed. You’re going to see some of the best wrestling in the state al in one gym. It’s going to be sweet.”

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