The similarities are intriguing - from the way they spell their first names to the fact that both favor football over wrestling and are 4.0 students.
Best friends Daryl Groom and Daryn Steeneck, reunited at Rogers High School as sophomores this year, even wrestle in the same 108-pound weight class.
“The two are inseparable,” said Pirate Coach Ken Pelo.
Except for last year, Groom and Steeneck have been together as classmates since the third grade and through Garry Junior High. Even while Groom attended North Central, the two continued to see each other on weekends.
“Teachers ever since grade school have mixed us up,” said Steeneck.
Last year, as an Indian, Groom finished sixth in state at 101 pounds. He was 7-1 in league, his only loss coming up a weight, and finished first in district and second in regional.
Competing in the Tacoma Dome as a freshman, he compiled a 3-3 record.
“I was nervous and the adrenalin was flowing,” he said of his first state appearance, which left him unawed.
Steeneck had a 6-1 record as a Rogers 101-pounder but broke his wrist and missed the season-ending tournaments.
The two friends never faced each other during the year. Together again at Rogers this year, they wrestle in practice every day.
In matches, however, the two have competed in different weights except for the finals of the Hillyard M-2 Mallet tournament last month. Groom won 8-5.
“Sometimes it takes us a round to get serious,” said Steeneck. “He started good and I started slow.
“I got a couple of reversals and an escape, but it was too late.”
Groom said he hoped the two would meet again the first weekend in February in the district tournament finals, where the two could be seeded first and second.
“I’d certainly like to think Daryn’s number two,” said Pelo.
“I suppose if he’s number three, I won’t be too unhappy. But I’ll tell you one thing: He’s certainly no worse than number three.”
The two wrestlers are part of the reason Rogers is once again a factor in the Greater Spokane League. Going into their final two matches of the season, the Pirates are 5-1 and face fellow contenders Gonzaga Prep tonight and Mead next Thursday.
Groom, said Coach Pelo “is really, really strong. He’s a bull. Steeneck is probably a little quicker.
“He has more snap and speed but just doesn’t have the strength.”
Despite their lack of size, both love football, and Coach Dave Pomante figures they eventually will be his starting cornerbacks.
“In the Rogers tradition we use them small, like their coach,” he joked.
For now, the pair are content with banging heads against each other in the wrestling room, helping each other improve, and hoping to meet at tournament time.
“I’m happy to be back with the friends I grew up with,” said Groom.
Added Steeneck, “I’m happy he’s here.”
And if they should reach the finals of district, all the better for Pelo.
“You know you’ve got a winner,” he said.