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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Hoover twins power Mt. Spokane wrestling

Twin brothers Alec, bottom, and Andrew Hoover are state contenders for Mt. Spokane High School. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Most of the time Mt. Spokane wrestling coach Travis Hughes can tell the Hoover twins apart.

If they groom their hair the same, though, seniors Alec and Andrew Hoover can fool their coach. Or wear the same color wrestling shoes. Hughes relies heavily at times on the different shoes.

During a first semester college-level government class, Alec and Andrew often switched seats. If the teacher addressed one by the other’s name, they played along and the teacher was none the wiser.

Teachers can’t distinguish the Hoovers by their homework either. Both carry 4.0 grade-point averages.

Alec concedes that Andrew is a tad smarter.

“He scores higher on important tests,” Alec said.

Andrew concedes that Alec is the better wrestler.

Alec captured a state championship last year and will challenge for a repeat. Andrew took third last year and is capable of claiming a state title this year.

Both have a lot of work ahead, though, to reach the top of the awards podium.

Alec is currently ranked second at 126 pounds behind another defending champ and league rival, Clai Quintanilla from North Central.

Andrew took third last year and is ranked fifth at 132.

Alec isn’t concerned about being behind Quintanilla. They hooked up for the first time in the semifinals at Tri-State where Quintanilla won 6-3. They’ll likely see each other at district and regionals and maybe at state.

“I just have to go out and wrestle my best,” Alec said. “I’ll wrestle whoever comes on the mat.”

Andrew wrestled Quintanilla in a dual last week and got pinned with about 10 seconds left in a competitive match. Andrew was trailing and tried a last-ditch shot that backfired.

The Hoovers believe they can challenge for state titles. So does their coach.

“I probably believe that more than they do,” Hughes said. “Whether they do or not, they’ve been great for our program.”

The Wildcats were gathering to take a team picture at a practice last week and the Hoovers were doing what leaders do – getting the younger wrestlers to follow instructions for the picture.

They actually embraced being leaders last year because there was a vacuum in leadership.

A teammate was mopping the mats before practice and had just finished, leaving a pile of dust at one end of the mat.

“Don’t leave that there,” Alec said. “Make sure to come back and clean it up.”

“They’ve carried the team on their backs the last couple years,” Hughes said. “We’re going to miss them. They’ve been so low maintenance. You never have to ask them twice to do something.”

And because of their intelligence, they usually don’t make the same mistake twice on the mat.

They’ve been just one weight class apart most of their careers and the Hoovers usually go against each other in practice. But Hughes put a halt to it this year.

“I pulled them apart because it was shutting down their offense,” Hughes said.

They know each other’s moves so well, it was like they were in each other’s head.

“It is like wrestling yourself,” Alec said. “It’s sort of difficult.”

That’s true in so many ways. They finish each other’s thoughts often.

They’ve never wrestled in an official match in high school – although as sophomores they ended up at 120 for the postseason and both qualified for state.

Hughes will always remember what happened during the first round at state that year. One of the twins was set to wrestle and an opponent who was supposed to wrestle the other twin showed up. The twin pinned the opponent.

When the error was discovered, the opponent wrestled the other twin, who promptly won by pin too.

Alec is the oldest by 52 minutes.

“Andrew just took his time,” Alec said, smiling. “I was ready to go.”

They’ll be among Mt. Spokane’s valedictorians. They both have taken the SAT college-entrance test with Alec scoring 2040 and Andrew scoring 2080.

“Alec had a slightly better reading score by 20 points and I had a better writing score by 60,” Andrew said. “We had identical math scores.”

They’ve applied to many of the same colleges. Some NCAA Division III schools they’ve applied to offer wrestling. If they have the opportunity they’ll continue wrestling.

They won’t necessarily go to the same college, though.

“If Alec decides to go somewhere that I don’t want to go, that’s OK,” Andrew said. “At some point we have to go our separate ways and get on with life.”

“I wouldn’t say we’re inseparable but we do most things together,” Alec said.

Alec said they don’t have girlfriends but they’ve always joked it would be fun to date twins.

The Hoovers hope to lead Mt. Spokane to a state title. The Wildcats knocked off No. 1-ranked Kamiakin and second-ranked Edmonds-Woodway while winning the 3A division at Dream Duals last Saturday.

Kamiakin and E-W swapped spots in the rankings while Mt. Spokane remained third.

“It will all get worked out in the end,” Hughes said.

And if the Hoovers have a say, they’ll be in the middle of it. You just probably won’t be able to tell them apart.