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'I just see a younger me': Fainter brothers at different schools reflect on wrestling against each other

Posted at 6:27 PM, Feb 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 20:31:07-05

COLUMBIA FALLS — Most brothers grow up wrestling at home or in their backyard, but Traic and Lyrik Fainter recently had the opportunity to take things to the next level. Since they attend different schools, they were able to compete against each other at the Western A divisional tournament.

"When I saw the bracket came out, he was on my side and I knew it was going to be a little bit emotional because that’s your brother, you know," said Traic, the older of the brothers. "You don't want to really beat him, but you got to do what you got to do."

"And it's gonna be probably one of the most memorable matches because that's the last time I really get to wrestle him. I mean, we grew up wrestling in the house all day, every day, but that's the one I’m going to remember the most."

When the two met at the Western A divisionals, Traic was chasing the quick pin award for the most pins in the least time, and his younger brother Lyrik was ready to make a true brotherly sacrifice.

"When he knew that we had to wrestle he asked if I wanted him just to go lay down out there," Traic Fainter said with a laugh. "I said no man, just wrestle, we'll just have some fun."

Despite the Columbia Falls senior beating the Bigfork freshman at divisionals, both managed to qualify for the state tournament.

State wrestling
Bigfork’s Lyric Fainter, top, wrestles Ronan’s Oliver Reynolds during the second round of the Class A state wrestling tournament at First Interstate Arena in Billings on Friday, Feb. 9, 2024.

"We were both super happy," said Lyrik Fainter. "I was glad to see that I wasn't on the same side as him at state and I wasn't gonna have to go against him there, and it was just really fun."

Lyrik has appreciated having an older brother to look up to and learn from.

"He coaches me during my matches as long as he's not up like directly right after me," said Lyrik Fainter. "I always look at what he says, and then I look at my coach, because I feel like he knows how I wrestle more because I wrestle like him."

Both brothers started wrestling at 4 years old, but now that Traic has ended his high school career as a state champion, Lyrik, only a freshman, is hoping to follow in his footsteps.

State wrestling championship matches
Columbia Falls' Traic Fainter raises his arm after winning the Class A 113-pound final during the state wrestling tournament at First Interstate Arena in Billings on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024.

"It’s really something that I look forward to, following what he's always done," said Lyrik Fainter. "And hopefully to be a state champion, too."

As for what it means to Traic to see his younger brother already qualifying for state as a freshman:

"I just see the younger me," the older brother said with a smile. "And I hope he keeps climbing and reaching his goals like I did mine, and I think he's gonna do some great things."