Irondale brothers, from left, Dustin, Derek and Ryan Weinmann
Without hesitation, Irondale wrestling coach Josh Krebs walked the scrawny seventh-grader up to recently graduated Ryan Clark and made the introduction.
This is the kid who is going to break your school record.
No pressure, right?
"It's a very vivid memory in my mind," Derek Weinmann said. "I remember Ryan kind of eyed me up, smiled and said, 'All right. Good luck.' "
Five years later, Weinmann did it, earning his 127th victory Dec. 10 as a 152-pound senior for the Knights.
He did so with Clark, now an assistant coach, nearby, and with two of his biggest fans cheering the loudest: twin brothers Dustin and Ryan Weinmann.
"Win or lose, we're always there to try and make the other one better," said Dustin, a 120-pound junior. "And if you wrestle bad, they'll tell you."
That doesn't happen too often.
All three were all entrants into last year's Class 3A state tournament. It was the third trip for Derek and second for Dustin. But for Ryan, who was wrestling his first season on varsity, making it a three-man Weinmann parade to Xcel Energy Center was a must.
"I went into [the section tournament] with the attitude that I had to get it done," the 113-pounder said. "I was really motivated. I kept telling myself I was not going to be the one Weinmann that doesn't make it."
Dustin and Ryan didn't come into Irondale's varsity wrestling room as seventh graders like Derek, but over time, the three have collectively made their mark on the program.
Krebs said the three haven't missed a practice or a match in more than three years -- "Probably because they drive together," he quipped -- and once they arrive it's all business.
"These guys aren't the most athletic kids I've ever coached," said Krebs, a former Gophers wrestler in his ninth year with the program. "But they're dedicated workers. They win just because of the level of effort they put in. It sets a great tone."
The three, who are all ranked by the Guillotine among the top 10 wrestlers at their weight in 3A, aren't known for backing down from a challenge, either:
• Two years ago, Krebs offered Derek the chance to wrestle up or down a weight to avoid a scheduled dual-meet match with Bloomington Kennedy pin-master Dylan Ness. Derek vehemently insisted on wrestling Ness.
• On almost a whim, Dustin, a former soccer player, conducted a spot tryout for the Knights football team last fall and nailed a 30-yard field goal for the special teams coaches.
• Ryan wants nothing more than for all three brothers to not just qualify again for the state tournament, but win.
"I always want to be better than them and they're always trying to beat me and prove me wrong," Derek said. "It's a competitive edge that keeps us driving forward."
Last weekend's Minnesota Christmas tournament in Rochester tested that edge. Dustin took seventh, the only brother to place. It could have been a long, dejected drive back to New Brighton. Instead, the Weinmanns got some quick advice from Krebs, then went to work putting words to action -- first playing around in the family living room, then back at practice Monday.
Just as it always has been.
"We don't go into anything quiet," Dustin said. "Go into everything with a bang. We're super competitive, that's just the way it is."