WINTER GARDEN — When members of the West Orange wrestling team step onto the mat at a competition, they do so as individuals.
Nonetheless, head coach Kristin Iannuzzi works to instill the concept of team and being a brotherhood. This season, the concept has taken on a new meaning — the team has three sets of actual brothers, including twins.
So far, the combination of having actual brothers and a close-knit team has boded well for West Orange, which took home first place at the Eagle Duels Dec. 13 at Poinciana High School.
“It’s huge for us — it’s all about family,” Iannuzzi said. “Even if they’re not blood-brothers, these guys are closer than they are with some of their siblings because of the stress of the training they go through. … No one gets that unless you’re here every day.”
The teams’ brothers include twins Christian and Christopher Villafane, Matthew and Ethan Mora and Jaylen and Kenneth Paucar.
Having three sets of brothers on the team is more than the veteran coach can remember ever having had in one season.
“I’ve had brothers in the past go through the program (but) never this many,” Iannuzzi said. “It’s interesting to see how different they are. I’ve never had two brothers that are the same (as wrestlers).”
West Orange improved to 7-1 over the weekend and has looked strong so far this season.
The Warriors won the Eagle Duels in spite of being down two key wrestlers, and Iannuzzi said she is encouraged by what she has seen. West Orange will compete in St. Cloud on Friday and Saturday in the Bulldog IBT Brawls — a good chance for the Warriors to see just how far along they are.
“(We have) a strong foundation,” Iannuzzi said. “We’re hoping for big things because the foundation is definitely there.”
In total, since Iannuzzi took over the program in 2008 when it was on the chopping block, West Orange is 102-41.