Maroon and Gold’s wrestling is a family act

Identical twins Nick and Chris Dardanes are one of three pairs of brothers on this year’s squad.

Freshman Chris Dardanes, right, wrestles Sophomore David Thorn during practice Tuesday at Bierman.  Dardanes and his twin brother, Nick, are currently in their second season on the team.

Freshman Chris Dardanes, right, wrestles Sophomore David Thorn during practice Tuesday at Bierman. Dardanes and his twin brother, Nick, are currently in their second season on the team.

Drew Claussen

Twins Nick and Chris Dardanes wanted to wrestle together at the collegiate level for a young, talented team. It was those specifications that led them to the University of Minnesota. âÄúWeâÄôve always wanted to go to the same college,âÄù Nick Dardanes said. âÄúWe chose Minnesota because of the young team, how close the group of guys are here and the coaching staff.âÄù The twins are from Chicago, where they attended Oak Park and River Forest High School. Both have been wrestling since they were four years old. Head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said he liked the duoâÄôs work ethic when he and the rest of MinnesotaâÄôs coaching staff recruited them. âÄúWhen we were going after them the thing that we saw was their work ethic and their intensity out of the mat,âÄù Eggum said. âÄúTheyâÄôre kind of in a league of their own as far as work ethic.âÄù Nick Dardanes was a two-time Illinois state champion. He won at 130 pounds his junior year and 140 as a senior. Chris Dardanes won a state championship his senior year at 135 pounds. In the summer of 2009, both wrestled at the USA Wrestling Junior National Freestyle Tournament, where Nick placed second and Chris placed fourth. Both wrestled at 130 pounds. Once on campus the brothers made an immediate impact on their teammates. âÄúTheyâÄôre awesome for our program because theyâÄôre so tough that hopefully it rubs off on other people,âÄù senior captain Zach Sanders said. âÄúSometimes they just pump me up just because of how tough they are. The way they wrestle, it makes me want to wrestle harder.âÄù âÄúIf they were horses, theyâÄôd run until their hearts explode[d],âÄù Sanders said. He added that the team will often joke around and call each twin his brotherâÄôs name to poke fun at them. âÄúYou can tell between the two of them, they have different personalities,âÄù Sanders said. âÄúNickâÄôs maybe a little quieter, Chris is probably a little more outgoing âÄî both are extremely hard workers. TheyâÄôre the nicest people in the world off the mat, but on the mat theyâÄôre mean as can be.âÄù Nick went 20-4 wrestling in open competitions last year. This year he burst into the starting lineup at 141 pounds and is currently ranked No. 10 in the country. âÄúNick has done an excellent job at 141 pounds,âÄù Eggum said. âÄúHeâÄôs beat some good guys out there, and heâÄôs made a statement for that weight.âÄù Chris tore his ACL and required two surgeries before he arrived at Minnesota. He spent last season rehabbing the injury. âÄúIt was hard to watch every day, the guys that were in the practice room training hard,âÄù Chris said. âÄúBut I continued to do circuit [training] and do what I [could] to stay in shape.âÄù Eggum said he is impressed with ChrisâÄô progress so far this season. âÄúHis whole last year was spent just rehabbing,âÄù Eggum said. âÄúHe came in at the very end of this spring and started wrestling so heâÄôs pretty fresh. So to be where heâÄôs at, thatâÄôs remarkable I think.âÄù The two both said that it was easier to adjust to being in college and being a Division I athlete with their brother by their side. âÄúIt was definitely easier, especially after redshirting,âÄù Nick said. âÄúWe got a year of being in the [wrestling] room and seeing what these guys go through.âÄù The Dardanes are one of three brother combinations on this yearâÄôs team: Sonny and Cody Yohn and Danny and David Zilverberg are the others. The Gophers also have David Thorn and Dylan Ness, two players whose older brothers wrestled for Minnesota, but have graduated. Eggum said that having multiple wrestlers from one family is not uncommon. âÄúI donâÄôt think itâÄôs specific to [Minnesota],âÄù Eggum said. âÄúI think in situations where there is a group of sons that are wrestling, a lot of times when you get one, the next oneâÄôs coming up.âÄù