HAMMOND | Morton's Ruben and Rickie Rodriguez may be brothers, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're alike.
Ruben, a junior who wrestles at 120 pounds, is an aggressive grappler who can have a fiery temper. Rickie, a sophomore at 113, is laid back and prefers to react to his opponents.
"Ruben's a little bit more mature, more responsible. Rickie's kind of more a California kind of guy, more laid back," coach Kevin Persley said. "Ruben wants to score points on the mat and Rickie is defensive."
Both strategies have worked. The pair has each advanced to this weekend's Calumet regional, Rickie with a first-place finish at the East Chicago Central sectional and Ruben with a second place.
The brothers, who are practice partners in the Morton basement wrestling room affectionately called "the dungeon," are a combined 64-6 on the season -- Ruben is 31-3 with 15 pins while Rickie is 33-3 with 12 pins.
"(Rickie) has got one of the best 120-pounders in the state to practice with every day," Persley said. "He's got benefit from that as long as he can because when his brother graduates, he's not going to have him to practice with anymore."
Practices can get heated. But it rarely extends beyond practice, Ruben said.
"He's a good partner," Ruben said. "I think if he was my weight class, I could actually lose to him."
"He's going to teach me everything and then I'm going to use it against him," Rickie said.
Persley says everything revolves around family for the Rodriguez brothers. Ruben hopes Rickie is better than he is. Rickie hopes the youngest Rodriguez, Reese (not yet in high school), is someday better than both of his older siblings.
But for now, Ruben and Rickie are focused on their own postseasons.
"I plan to be at state, at least the second day," Rickie said. "That's my goal and I think I can get that far."