(WCIA) — Zac and Danny Braunagel have something many wrestlers don’t–a training partner for life.
“Having a twin is definitely something we used to take for granted, and we didn’t realize how important and how beneficial that is to us,” says Danny. “Especially now with having limited options to train, we’ve been really creative in finding different ways to do things.”
“We still wrestle with each other, whereas some of our teammates we know they can’t find someone to wrestle with. So it’s always been our benefit to have each other,” says Zac.
The Illini wrestlers can’t be on campus right now, but they’re still training together back home in Belleville. The redshirt freshmen are coming off successful seasons where they were nationally ranked in their respective weight classes. Zac competes in 184, Danny in 165. The Braunagels combined for 38 wins, helping the Illini to a 10-4 record before the season was cancelled.
“I feel like that’s why we’ve gotten to where we are, because we’re always working out with each other, and there’s that sibling rivalry,” says Zac. “So if he’s doing something I gotta go do something, cause I can’t let him one-up me, and that’s helped us grow over the years and improve.”
The twins often banter over who’s the better wrestler–it’s a longtime sibling rivalry that started in high school. Both of them won back-to-back State Championships in 2018, putting them on Illinois’ radar. They came to Champaign together, because going separate ways wasn’t an option.
“The coaches that contacted us, we said we wanted to go to school together,” says Zac. “We always wanted to. I don’t think we’ve ever done anything too different from each other. Like right now the only thing we do different is our major. So, everything else is kind of the same.”
Their goals are identical as well. The twins say they hope to win a National Championship and a Big Ten Championship with Illinois.