Barr brothers battle on the mats
He's your best friend and your worst nightmare both at the same time -- he's your brother.
On the wrestling mats, there are no two combatants in such close competition as James and Josh Barr.
Close to the same size and build, James is a senior at 160 pounds, and Josh is a sophomore who wrestled up a weight class at 189.
Josh gave up 15 pounds to his opponents most of the season but helped the squad by not challenging James or 171-pound senior Luke Powers.
"That was my plan: I wanted to eat," explained Josh who gorged at a Chinese restaurant in Lawrence Thursday night before regionals while his older brother took only a few sips of Gatorade so he could make weight.
"I told him he better not smell like Chinese food," James said. "It gets really annoying that he can eat anything he wants and steps on the scale in full clothes."
The brothers annoy each other in practice, but it actually helps them both.
"They beat the tar out of each other and push each other to get better," said Eudora High School coach Bill DeWitt. "Sometimes I make sure they are not partners at practice. James has older brother mentality, but Josh weighs more."
"He's good competition for me and he's getting better. He's almost on par with me this year," James said. "He learns from me, which is not always good because he wants to do throws, and he was throwing himself on his back.
"If you ask him, he can beat me, but the majority of points and sticks go to me because I'm more experienced."
Josh said, "I have learned from my coaches, but James helps me refine my moves. We fight a lot. We get in brawls in wrestling because you don't want to lose to your brother."
Josh took a swing at his sibling in practice earlier in the season, but they both think it is funny now. They were fighting over Josh's hat at regionals, but shared headgear at league when Josh's broke.
Both began wrestling in 1996 in the Eudora Kids program, and Josh has followed in James' footsteps in that they both made varsity as freshmen. Josh was named wrestler of the year when he was a freshman, while James was the most improved returning letterman last season. James has wrestled at 160 all four years, Josh was at 171 last year and may go up more next year. James ran cross country for the Cardinals, which helped keep his weight down; Josh bulked up as a member of the football team.
"I try to be his biggest supporter," James said. "When we get home, it is fun."
"We get along unless we're on the mat. It was tough watching him lose that last one," Josh said referring to the close loss at regionals that ended his brother's senior campaign. "We plan to settle the score before we get out of high school with an exhibition match. After I pin him, I'll get a drink of water."