It’s not uncommon for athletes to refer to their teammates as family. Most of the time, athletes tend to spend more time with their teammates and coaches than with their actual families. Of course, it’s noticeable during the season, but it’s the off-season workouts, study halls and recovery sessions where friends become family.
But what if your teammate is already your brother?
Evan Wick graduated from San Marino High School in the class of 2016. After placing twice in the California State High School Championships, it was time for his decision on where he would go to college. Evan chose Big Ten powerhouse Wisconsin as his new home.
During the 2016-17 season, Evan began to make his name for the Badgers. He started gathering credentials that would serve as the building blocks for his future wrestling resume. Evan defeated multiple nationally-ranked wrestlers en route to compiling a 16-3 record as a freshman. Despite having a successful first season at Wisconsin, Evan decided to redshirt his freshman season, unattaching him from the team.
When a collegiate athlete makes the decision to “redshirt” a season, they remove themselves from varsity competition for a year in order to extend their eligibility. Redshirting allows an athlete five years to use four years of athletic eligibility.
Evan tallied a team-high 11 wins against ranked opponents. He also led the Badgers in wins, takedowns, four-point near-falls, quickest pin, technical falls, major decisions and win streak.
Following his historic season, Evan posted record statistics once again. His fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships made him an All-American once again, becoming the 25th wrestler in Wisconsin history to do so. He finished with a 32-6 overall record, establishing himself as one of the nation’s best wrestlers.
Entering the 2017-18 season as a redshirt freshman, Evan made himself a household name for college wrestling. After a 30-7 season record, he placed third in the NCAA Championships, becoming one of two Wisconsin wrestlers all-time to be named an All-American at 165 pounds in their freshman year.
Following his historic season, Evan posted record statistics once again. His fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships made him an All-American again, becoming the 25th wrestler in Wisconsin history to do so.
In the 2019-20 season, Evan was never ranked below sixth place in the polls. After not competing in the Big Ten Championship, he qualified for the NCAA Championship as an at-large bid, making his third appearance in as many years.
With three consecutive successful seasons under his belt, Evan chose to be an Olympic redshirt in the 2020-21 season. He did not enroll in any classes during the year, preserving his final year of eligibility.
Because the Tokyo Olympic Games were set for the summer of 2020, athletes were allowed an Olympic redshirt to spend a year training away from the team to focus exclusively on preparing for the Olympic Trials and Olympic Games.
Heading into his final year with the Badgers, Evan chose to transfer from Wisconsin.
“As many of you may already know, I have decided to leave the University of Wisconsin and explore other options for my final year of eligibility,” Evan said in an Instagram post. “I have battled with making this decision for a long time, but I know in my heart that it is time for a change.”
Approximately 2,000 miles west, a senior at San Marino High School was contemplating his options for wrestling at the college level –– Luka Wick, Evan’s younger brother.
Luka placed twice at the California State High School Championships, missing the tournament in 2020 due to a knee injury and the 2021 tournament being canceled due to COVID-19. Luka was being recruited out of high school by wrestling powerhouses like Minnesota and Michigan.
“I was aware he would leave Wisconsin and asked him, ‘if I was at Cal Poly and they could take him, would he come?’” Luka said. “He said yes.”
The Wick brothers were keeping tabs on each other’s recruiting ventures, but it seemed many schools were only wanting one or the other.
“We were both being recruited, but Cal Poly was the only place that would take both of us,” Luka said.
On April 15, 2021, Luka committed to Cal Poly.
The ball was in Evan’s court: follow his younger brother to Cal Poly or go his own direction.
On June 15, 2021, Evan committed to Cal Poly, e xactly two months after his brother.
“On my recruiting visit, I came [to Cal Poly] and got to meet the coaches and see the team, and a lot of things stuck out to me and continue to shine during my time here,” Evan said.
Evan is currently the No. 1 wrestler in the country for the 165-pound weight class, according to InterMat. For the first time since the 2006-07 season, the Mustangs began the season with two returning All-Americans in the starting lineup, with Evan joining redshirt sophomore Bernie Truax.
“These highly rated recruits are now looking forward to the opportunity we have at Cal Poly,” head coach Jon Sioredas said. “Evan’s little brother Luka being one of them.”
The addition of Evan inserted another nationally ranked wrestler to the Cal Poly roster. For the first time in a decade, the Mustangs started the 2021-22 season with four nationally ranked athletes. Evan and Truax were accompanied by redshirt freshman Legend Lamer and redshirt sophomore Lawrence Saenz.
Cal Poly also began the season ranked as a team, No. 20 by InterMat. The last time the Mustangs were nationally ranked was in 2012, when they were No. 18 late in the season.
The Wick brothers have put on a show for the Mustangs in the only season they will be together for.
Luka is currently 12-0 this season. Wrestling in the 149-pound weight class, he placed first in the Frosh-Soph Division of the Michigan State Invitational, first at the Roadrunner Open and second at the Reno Tournament of Champions.
Countering, Evan is 15-0, placing first in the Open Division of the Michigan State Invitational and first in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
“A huge worry as an athlete transitioning to college is wondering if you will fit in with your team and really be able to connect with them as a family,” Luka said. “Evan already being a part of the family makes it an easy transition to make the whole team my family.”