An uncommon bond

Reid, Schoenberger have little in common - except friendship and state titles

Posted: Sunday, February 13, 2000

Gary Reid and Garrett Schoenberger have the kind of friendship where they do everything together.

From tearing up each other's houses wrestling across the living room to being towed in their inflatable raft across Auke Bay by a king salmon, the two Juneau-Douglas High School seniors have been through a lot together. It's also the kind of friendship where Reid and Schoenberger won state wrestling titles together, ending a 14-year drought by Juneau wrestlers.

But once you get to know Reid and Schoenberger it's obvious they're very different personalities.

``They are completely opposite,'' said Juneau wrestling coach Bob Mahon, who also coaches the two in his Juneau Tornadoes Wrestling Club program.

``Garrett is firm and direct. He's really focused and he's always working to get better. Garrett is the fatherly figure,'' Mahon said. ``Gary is the jokester, the screw-off. He's a good kid, but sometimes he can make you so mad. I remember when Gary was a freshman, he'd make the upperclassmen so mad they'd start pounding on him and Gary would head into the locker room to cry. But then he'd come back a few minutes later for more punishment. You never see him looking as serious as Garrett. Gary is scary. If he ever put out the effort Garrett puts out, he'd be scary.''

``We are really different,'' Schoenberger said. ``But it's like opposites attract. We've always been there for each other. We've gone through thick and thin together.''

That includes winning state wrestling titles together last Saturday night at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Patty Center, ending two very lengthy losing streaks.

Reid, who claimed the 140pound championship with a 6-5 decision over Palmer's John Ford, became the first Juneau wrestler since 1986 to win a state title, when Phil Isaak claimed the championship at 155 pounds. Schoenberger followed Reid's title about 30 minutes later when he won the 171pound crown with a 7-5 decision over Wasilla's James Beaudoin. Those two titles were the first state championships won by a Southeast wrestler since Sitka's Scott Falzerano won the 189-pound title in 1992. To cap off the evening, Reid was voted the state tournament's outstanding wrestler.

``On Wednesday night, before we left for Fairbanks, Phil called up and gave us each a pep talk,'' Reid said. ``He said don't worry if you lose. You just have to want it more. I was excited when I won, but I didn't know I'd have another match. When Garrett was out there, it was like I was out there on the mat with him.''

``He did take the pressure off,'' Schoenberger said of Reid's title. ``But he did add more pressure. Now I had to win. But it got me fired up. I wanted to celebrate with him so much, but I had to hold myself back a lot until I'd wrestled my match. I can't tell you how much this means to me that he won, too.''

Reid and Schoenberger have been best buddies since Schoenberger's family moved to Juneau when they were both in the third grade. Mahon said he has a picture of them both sitting on Santa's lap, when Mahon said they were practically ``babies.''

About six years ago, when they were in middle school, Reid took his father's inflatable raft with a 2horsepower engine out to Auke Bay for some salmon fishing. Reid and Schoenberger were trolling around when Schoenberger hooked into a 40-pound king. Reid stopped the motor and grabbed the net, but the raft was still moving.

``We were both about 100 pounds, and that raft basically sat right on top of the water,'' Reid said. ``Garrett hooked into that big king, and he's yelling at me, `Turn off the motor,' and I'm yelling back, `But I did.' We did get that king, though. That's the way it seems to be when Garrett and I go fishing. It's always him catching them, and me doing the netting.''

As they were growing up, Reid and Schoenberger had their different interests - Reid is into 4wheelers and Schoenberger is into baseball. But they always seemed to be hanging out with each other. Even though they didn't formally begin wrestling until the summer between their eighth and ninth grade years, Reid and Schoenberger have been wrestling each other for nearly their entire lives. They've done some serious damage to their family homes over the years.

``More than anything, it's the walls,'' Schoenberger said. ``It seemed like we were always puttying the walls after putting holes in them. We'd have these WWF (World Wrestling Federation) matches on his parents' bed, or on his bed.''

``We were always digging out the duct tape and Super Glue,'' Reid said.

During the summer between their eighth and ninth grade years, Mahon said he already knew Reid planned to join the wrestling team. But he didn't meet Schoenberger until one summer's eve when the twosome were in Bullwinkle's Pizza, Reid consoling Schoenberger after his baseball team had just lost a regional championship to Ketchikan. At the time, Schoenberger told Mahon that he wasn't sure if he was going to wrestle, but Mahon said he took one look at the near-brotherly bond between two friends and told Schoenberger, ``You'll wrestle.''

The road to a state title was slow for both wrestlers, and neither of them qualified for the state meet when they were freshmen. Both made the state tournament as sophomores as second seeds from Southeast. Last year, Schoenberger took third place at 160 pounds, while Reid was fifth at 135.

Now that Juneau's title drought is over, Reid and Schoenberger want to start a new streak - years when Juneau has state champions. Reid and Schoenberger were like assistant coaches this season, helping freshman and sophomore wrestlers refine their moves. On Thursday night, Reid and Schoenberger were at the Juneau Tornadoes' clubhouse, helping Mahon register younger wrestlers for the club team.

``This is good for the overall program, from the middle school on up,'' Schoenberger said of the two state titles.

``I wouldn't be anywhere without the team,'' Reid said. ``Without them, I'd have nobody to drill with.''

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