By David Bashore
Herald sports editor
As a general rule of thumb, wrestling is considered a family sport more so, perhaps, than the likes of basketball, baseball, or soccer.
The person who coined the phrase could not have envisioned that Hermiston's wrestling program would grow to epitomize that sentiment, and in doing so become an undisputed powerhouse in the Intermountain Conference and one of the nation's best squads.
That power is built on the shoulders of two current sets of brothers Marty, Cody and Jaylee Britt as well as Brent and Ethan Parks and fellow wrestlers who have either had brothers precede them in the Hermiston program or have brothers in the pipeline behind them.
The Britts started wrestling a little over four years ago, when an uncle got them started, and they've been wrestling ever since.
But what makes them, the Parks brothers, and the rest of the athletes in the sibling-laden Bulldog wrestling program so good?
There's a number of elements to it, and all of them are innate in any sibling relationship.
With many a brother, the aspect of confrontation and a test of superiority always rears its head, and in wrestling that usually means brothers beating up on one another and always making sure that they are better than the other.
"When you get guys that are similar in age and size, there's a wrestling partner even when you're not at practice," Hermiston head coach Curt Berger said. "Most of these guys come from competitive families, and you get the guys who always want to be better than the other."
Beyond that comes the aspect of motivating each other, a bond which especially comes when siblings share time in the mat room.
"I can come in and see that Marty's placed third at state, and Cody's gone to state and won two matches," Jaylee, the youngest of the Britts currently at the high school level there is one younger, Sidney, yet to come said. "I look up to both of them and that helps me set goals for what I want to do."
The final aspect, and perhaps the most unspoken yet the one with the greatest weight, is the aspect of admiration and emulation.
"When you have someone as good as he is, it's really helpful," Ethan Parks said of his older brother Brent, a defending state champion who is closing in on Hermiston's career wins record. "Right after my matches I have someone who can show me what I need to do (to improve)."
It might be difficult to match a brother when he's a state champion, but it's more difficult to match a three-time state champion.
"(The past success of his brothers Jeremy and Kyle) doesn't bother me (negatively)," junior Randy Larson said. "But it does motivate me to keep getting better."
Brotherhood is a theme common in wrestling, and one which transcends the bonds of blood with Hermiston's squad in particular.
It's an approach they'll take into this weekend's Intermountain Conference championship meet, just the third meet Hermiston will have hosted this season, with the hopes of qualifying their target number of 12 to 16 wrestlers for the state meet.
"I think when you've wrestled with a guy all year and he doesn't make it (to the state meet), there's disappointment," Berger said. "You want them to be able to come with you to state. (This group) is a family."
And when that happens for brothers, as so nearly was the case for Ethan and Brent Parks the former of whom narrowly missed qualifying last year and was the case for Marty and Cody Britt last season?
"It would be awesome (to have Ethan there at state)," Brent Parks said.