UNIVERSITY PARK — Before last school year, Dylan and Andrew Alton decided they needed a break.
The identical twin brothers had lived together all of their lives, and finally the stresses of being crammed into the same tiny dorm room on the Penn State campus with the same roommate caught up with both of them. It was an amiable split, however.
Dylan moved in with then-teammate Frank Molinaro and Andrew decided to share a room with David Taylor.
We got in arguments and had our fistfights and all of that, Dylan Alton said. Mostly we get along.
Were always on each other, Andrew Alton added. We decided to see what it would be like just to live without each other, be more independent.
Now, theyre back together.
Not only are the twins roommates again, they are back competing for the same team. Today, the Alton Brothers will wrestle in the same college dual meet lineup for the first time when Indiana (5-2) visits Rec Hall at 2 p.m.
Andrew is expected to make his first dual-meet start today at 149 while Dylan will wrestle the next bout at 157.
Its going to be exciting. It has been three years so Im really excited to wrestle in the same dual meet as him, Andrew Alton said.
The talented twins havent wrestled in the same lineup since both were seniors at Central Mountain High School in 2009-10. Both won state titles as seniors and came into Penn State as two of the most coveted recruits in the nation. Dylan was considered by InterMat to be the No. 5-ranked recruit at any weight while Andrew was was ranked No. 2 overall.
But the brothers paths to success would take different routes at Penn State. Dylan redshirted in 2010-11 while Andrew went on a 30-10 run as a true freshman before going 2-2 and making it to the Round of 12 at the NCAA tournament. Andrew redshirted the following season as Dylan marched to a 30-6 season and a third-place finish at 157 in last seasons NCAA Tournament.
Its safe to say Andrew didnt watch many of his brothers bouts last season.
Andrew gets too nervous where he doesnt watch me wrestle, Dylan said.
I get more nervous for him, Andrew added. Sometimes if its a close match I just go out and pace back in the hallway, come out maybe toward the end.
Andrew admitted he might do that today following his match when it's his brothers turn to step onto the mat.
Penn State coach Cael Sanderson, who has three brothers of his own, can identify with the camaraderie and touches of sibling rivalry the Altons share.
In here, theyre competing and battling and I think they compete for everything, Sanderson said. Theyve been doing it their whole life. They both work very hard and when they go together, it only increases that intensity. Thats the good thing about brothers, theyre not afraid to smack each other then hug one another afterwards.
Sanderson and his staff often use the phrase iron sharpens iron. The Altons have lived that way their whole lives, always having a training partner close by.
One time we were wrestling in the living room and it got a little heated and I put him through my living room wall when my parents werent home, Andrew said. So we both had to hide for a little bit when my parents came home.
While their looks are identical, their styles differ. Andrew is the explosive, score-from-any-position type of wrestler. He can execute a throw for big points or whip up a pinning combination seemingly out of thin air.
Dylan relies more on positioning and fluid attacks to mount his offense. Hes a takedown specialist who can rack up points with consistent technique.
Sanderson is hoping the differing styles but nearly identical potential will help fuel the Nittany Lions lineup for the next few seasons. He foresaw both Altons in his lineup at the same time when he first saw them wrestle years ago.
Both Altons have calm, quiet demeanors. And both have the same goals. They want to be national champions.
Sanderson said he believes their natural talents combined with their smooth approaches will aid them along the way.
And Dylan and Andrew will be there for one another, too.
They just seemed very poised and although they were watching each other, they werent showing a lot of emotion, Sanderson said of the first time he saw the Altons wrestle. Its fine to get into it, we just only have so much energy, you dont want to burn a lot of it worrying about your brother but you do want to support him, love him and be there for him. I thought they did a great job managing their emotions and I think that will be a big deal for them.