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Drake Rhodes paving own unique path at Billings West

1st Bear to win state wrestling title as freshman
Drake Rhodes
Posted at 6:12 PM, Dec 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-03 21:11:20-05

BILLINGS — It hadn't been 15 minutes since Jace Rhodes won his record-tying third straight title, and all he could think about at February's state wrestling meet was cheering on a freshman on the 113-pound mat. It's what brothers do.

"We're really competitive and never want to lose, whether it's a video game or anything," said younger brother Drake Rhodes. "He pushes me, and I think I push him a little bit, too."

Jace no doubt laid the groundwork for Drake's drive, but little brother doesn't necessarily want to follow in big brother's footsteps.

"Drake's doing it on his own terms," said West wrestling coach Jeremy Hernandez. "You get that thing where you have to fill big brother's shoes, but Drake is doing something that Jace never really did before, and that's winning it as a freshman."

Jace wasn't the only one - no West High Bear ever had won a state title as a freshman.

"Drake is probably the best freshman we've ever had," Hernandez admitted. "He was a state champ as a freshman, the first one ever in West High history. Three other guys tried to win a state title as a freshman, and they all got second place."

"It makes me feel good, but now it doesn't really matter," Rhodes said. "I have to go out and keep working hard and get better."

Because he knows to catch big brother, and possibly join the four-timer club, there's a lot of work ahead. So Drake's getting started.

"(I work on) technique all the time and conditioning and all that, to get better than I was," said Rhodes.

"Drake is not a vocal leader - what Drake leads at is how he works in the room, the stuff he does in the room," Hernandez said. "Kids see how hard he works, they watch that and they see what he's accomplished as a freshman. Kids want to do that."

That may lead to another freshman one day winning a title. But as Jace would tell you, records are made to be broken.