SOUTHINGTON - For Josh and Dan Veleas, wrestling has run in their family since they could remember.
The brothers, both state place winners for Berlin, started wrestling when they were in elementary school, after getting involved in the sport through their father, Peter, who knows more than his fair share about wrestling.
The elder Veleas is currently the head wrestling coach at Terryville High School and just last year he helped the Kangaroos place fifth at the Class S state meet.
Wrestling, in other words, is like the family business.
“Ever since I started wrestling my dad has always been there,” Dan Veleas said. “He was one of my first coaches and I’ve been blessed to always have his input in terms of what I need to do to keep improving. He’s never afraid to let me know where I need improvement and I’m fortunate to always have access to his opinion.”
“My dad being a coach has helped us both tremendously,” Josh Veleas said. “He coached us when we were first starting to wrestle all the way into middle school, which is when we started to go to KT Kidz [club team].”
“But once we got to high school, it became a little more difficult, because he coaches for a different school and he doesn’t get to see us wrestle as much,” Josh Veleas added. “When he gets the opportunity to see us wrestle, it is like we have another coach out there.”
But Peter Veleas also wrestled under Berlin head coach Jim Day when he was in high school. The boys are simply following in his footsteps.
“They’re wonderful young men to coach,” Day said. “They’re like assistant coaches. They know the sport. They’re the typical mat rats, typical coach’s sons. They really have a great understanding of the sport and they’re good competitors.”
During the MASS-CONNfusion tournament held Saturday, both brothers had solid showings to continue their strong seasons, in which both expect to contend for state titles in their respective weight classes.
“My younger brother is weighed in at 132, he’s doing good,” Josh Veleas said before the finals began. “He’s in the finals, but I’m sure he’ll get after it. He’ll wrestle his style and he’ll wrestle his match.”
In the end, after two byes and beating Bristol Eastern’s Gabe Soucy in a 9-1 major decision in the third round, Dan Veleas took the final in a 6-5 decision.
The older Veleas had a more difficult day.
Josh Veleas rolled through his first two opponents in the 160-pound weight class, pinning both before falling to Bristol Eastern’s Mikey Barrett in a 3-0 decision in the semifinals.
When it came to the consolation rounds, he rounded back into form, once again pinning his next two opponents to come away with third place.
“I just wanted to go out there, wrestle aggressive coming off of a loss,” Josh Veleas said. “I wanted to go out there, wrestle my style, wrestle my match. I went out there physical [and] got that first take down, always important.
“I just have to go out there, keep my style, keep my pace and stay heavy on the head. I got my shot and I got the match.”
Going forward, both Veleas brothers are looking to win their fair share of matches.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org