Five sets of brothers dominate Eagle team roster

Pictured are the brother pairs on this year’s Eagle wrestling team. First row, from left; Jack Mendoza, Dustin Dawson, Tomas Rolon, Jacob Graham, Alex Sebastian Gasper. Second row, from left; Joel Mendoza, Mark Dawson, Gabe Rolon, Josh Graham and Felix Gonzalo Gaspar. Photo by Les Houser

Out of all the high school wrestling teams in Iowa, a large number of them likely have at least one or even two brothers on the team. But I doubt that there’s very many that can boast of five sets of brothers. Eagle Grove can now claim to be one of them. Meet the Dawson, Graham, Mendoza, Rolon and Gaspar brothers up close and personal. 

“I got pulled into going out for wrestling,” recalls senior Mark Dawson about why he went out in the first place. “My dad brought me into the room when I was little and I saw Mark Kist. I wanted to follow in his footsteps.” Mark went on to say that he and his freshman brother Dustin didn’t really do what you would call wrestling in their younger years. “It was more like an all-out brawl,” he said. He admits though that they do work on moves and technique now. 

“I think you try harder in wanting to prove something to your brother,” said Mark when asked if he’s more competitive with Dustin on the team also. He doesn’t feel any added pressure because Dustin is watching him in practice and meets. “Dad told me to not push him,” said Mark. “I always have told Dustin to not try to be like me, but find your own person to look up to because that’s what I do.” His best piece of advice for Dustin is “Keep pushing no matter how hard it gets, because it’s all about the grind.” He feels the team is even closer than usual because of all the brothers.

When it comes to wrestling, or sports in general, helping prepare him for like beyond high school the older Dawson already has some of that plan in place. “I’m looking forward to the National Guard,” said Mark. “I’ve done a lot of sports here, and I’ve also become an Eagle Scout, which was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. You just have to love the process.”

Dustin’s reason for going out for wrestling was more of a health-related nature. “I have asthma,” he said. “I needed to try to prepare myself for a better future. It’s helping me to control my breathing.” When it comes to having an older brother on the team, Dustin feels he has something to prove. “Mark has told me he was  better than me, so I’m trying to prove him wrong,” said Dustin. “When he does three laps I do four. When he throws someone, I try to throw them further.” 

He does feel like the team bond is closer because of the brothers. “Mark is a social person, and so he’s found a way to connect the whole team,” said Dustin. “I consider all the guys my brothers.” He feels Mark is a very aggressive person, but that by watching him it has contributed to making him a better wrestler. “He gets angry when he loses,” said Dustin. “It’s just a sport, not the end game. I feel with all his success, that why can’t I have that too.”

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