In the basement of the Bierman Field Athletic Building, a life long rivalry between an All-American and a former NCAA champion brews at every practice.
Dylan Ness, the All-American, and his older brother, Jayson Ness, the former champion, still compete against one another.
Jayson, now an assistant with the Gophers, said there’s never been much of a rivalry, though — because his younger brother never stood a chance when they were kids.
“I’m five years older and was bigger than him growing up,” the former national champion said. “I just have a bit of older-brother syndrome, but I don’t think he’ll ever be able to take me one-on-one.”
Dylan, now a little bigger than his older brother, disagreed, not surprisingly.
“I’ve been bigger than him since my junior year of high school,” the 157-pounder said. “I think I could take him.”
And while the two disagree on who would win a head-to-head matchup, each is quite capable of going toe-to-toe with some of the best wrestlers in the nation.
Dylan, a junior with the Gophers, took second place at the NCAA tournament during his freshman year and placed fourth last year as a sophomore.
Jayson placed fifth, third, second and first nationally his freshman through senior years, respectively.
Though each brother has his own remarkable rÃ©sumÃ©, junior 174-pounder Logan Storley said the two can’t help but argue about whose is more impressive.
“They love to mess around with each other,” he said. “They love to give each other a hard time about what place they got their freshman or sophomore year.”
That type of banter isn’t uncommon, head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said.
Eggum said the friendly competition was apparent from one of the first team meetings after Dylan joined the squad as a freshman. Eggum said the coaches sat down with the new wrestlers and asked them about goals for their wrestling careers.
“He looked at what Jayson’s results were,” Eggum said, “and, jokingly, his answer every time was that his goal was one place higher … than his brother.”
That story is reflective of the ways Dylan’s demeanor differs from his older brother’s.
Those differences, however, are magnified even further on the mat.
“Jayson was very strong fundamentally and solid in his basics,” he said. “Dylan is a lot funkier. You see his scramble ability and his knack for coming out on top [in unique positions].”
Jayson, who holds the program’s record for most pins in a career, earned his pins with technical precision. He competed on the mat with a very business-like approach.
Dylan, on the other hand, is anything but fundamental on the mat. His unique style has led to a reputation as one of the most exciting wrestlers in the nation.
And while the brothers have their differences, senior heavyweight Tony Nelson said that the two have found a way to stay tremendously close despite those differences.
“They get along really well,” said Nelson, who has been a teammate of both Nesses. “They get each other.
“There’s nobody Dylan would rather have in his corner than Jayson.”
And it’s easy to see that Jayson’s success has helped Dylan.
Jayson was the first in the Ness family to wrestle, so he paved the way for Dylan’s career.
“He’s always looked up to me ever since he started wrestling,” Jayson said. “He’s always been going to every tournament with me and tons of practices all over the state and all over the country.”
Dylan said the relationship hasn’t changed at all since their childhood. He said the only difference now is that Jayson is officially his coach.
And while the rivalry still wears on, Dylan said it’s always made him a better wrestler.
“Jayson has been my coach, my mentor, for my whole life,” Dylan said. “It really doesn’t feel any different now.”