MONUMENT • Humble and reserved, Tyler and Rylen Thalhammer prefer to do most of their talking on the wrestling mat.
The brother tandem is part of a core group of increasingly accomplished and confident wrestlers poised and ready to take Palmer Ridge to the next level. Tyler, a senior, and Rylen, a sophomore, were both impressive in victories against rival Vista Ridge on Wednesday, helping propel the Bears to a 65-12 senior night dual win.
Tyler, a two-time state qualifier, was leading Dylan Holmes 11-1 in the third period of their 138-pound match when the outmatched Holmes was disqualified for too many stalling warnings. Rylen, who finished sixth at state at 106 last year, pinned the Wolves’ Trent Turban in the second period in their 113-pound match.
Using noticeably different styles, the brothers have put together stellar seasons.
Deliberate and methodical, Tyler carries a 23-4 record, and his intense and aggressive brother improved to 20-2 with his pin.
“They’re two different style of wrestlers,” Palmer Ridge coach Paul Gagich said. “Tyler is more about finesse and technique, and Rylen is just a grinder. (Tyler) is a thinking-type wrestler and is about as technical of a high school wrestler as I’ve ever been around.
“(Rylen) turns his motor on and just goes until the match is over. He works really hard, and everything he gets, he earns.”
Both athletes are just the type of wrestlers first-year coach Paul Gagich likes to have on his squad.
“They’re more the quiet type, and they’re leaders by example,” said Gagich, who spent three seasons as the Bears’ assistant coach before taking over the helm for the 2012-13 season. “They definitely have goals in mind they want to accomplish, and their work ethic shows that.”
Every couple of days in practice, the Thalhammers can be found squaring off on the mat. Tyler likes having his speed tested by his quicker sibling, and Rylen works to improve his power game against his brother.
Rylen looks up to his older brother, both on and off the mat.
“It’s pretty cool just knowing that he’s there,” Rylen said. “He helps me, and I’ve learned from him.”
They are a tight-knit pair, and Tyler is enjoying the rest of the time he has to be his brother’s teammate.
“It’s awesome, and he’s really inspiring to me,” Tyler said. “He never stops, and he pushes me sometimes. It’s really good to have (him around).”
Last season, the Thalhammers were able to enjoy something most brothers don’t — wrestling in the state tournament together.
“It was really exciting, because I didn’t think he would (qualify), but he did,” said Tyler, who is looking at Division II colleges as wrestling options for the future. “It was really nice.”
The sons of Conrad and Shelley Thalhammer, Tyler and Rylen have been around competition since an early age. Conrad was a nationally ranked judo competitor who trained at the Olympic Training Center from 1983-88, and he tried to encourage his boys to follow in his footsteps in his chosen sport.
It was not to be. The boys grew tired of judo and gravitated to wrestling. That was fine with the elder Thalhammer, and the boys are enjoying themselves thoroughly these days.
“Wrestling is a lot more fun,” Tyler said.