Learning how to wrestle isn’t easy. Learning three styles of wrestling is tough. Excelling at all three seems near impossible.
For brothers Peyton, Preston and Paxton Beckett, they’re making it look easy. The trio claimed the coveted Washington state Triple Crown, earned by wrestlers who win all three wrestling disciplines — folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman — in the same year. And it’s the second time they’ve done it, having taken the titles in 2021.
Folkstyle is the traditional style of wrestling people are most accustomed to in the United States, freestyle uses more creative and explosive moves, and Greco-Roman focuses more on upper body moves and holds.
The three train with the Northwest Washington Wrestling Club in Bremerton. While folkstyle helps get the Beckett brothers ready for high school and college wrestling, it’s freestyle and Greco-Roman that’ll help them train for international competitions, possibly even the Olympics.
Though all under 13, they all got started wrestling around the same time six years ago. Their dad, Justin, got them into it after he grew up in the sport. Amber, the boys’ mother, met Justin while they were in high school in Idaho. She was “appalled” after she first saw Justin wrestle in school and swore if she and her future husband ever had kids, they’d never be allowed to wrestle.
She’s now one of wrestling’s biggest fans and the Key Peninsula couple have three of the best young wrestlers in the country.
There are the 9-year-old twins, Preston and Paxton, fourth graders at Minter Creek Elementary. Paxton has seen the most success on the mat, claiming his first national Triple Crown title with USA Wrestling earlier this year in the 77-pound class. Called “Mean Beckett” because of his aggressiveness and dominance on the mat, he has an incredible 90-3 record (as of July), winning half of his matches by pinfall. “He’s so focused,” said Justin. “When Paxton does anything he does it at 100%.”
Preston is one minute older but about 10 pounds lighter than Paxton. “He has a very go-with-the-flow personality and does his own thing out on the mat,” his dad said. “With him, you just have to buy a ticket and see what happens.” Nicknamed “White Beckett” by his coaches for his platinum blonde hair, Preston recently placed in the Top 6 in all three events at the national level and boasts a 62-7 record.
Then there’s big brother Peyton, called “Big Beckett.” The 12-year-old, who is starting seventh grade this month at Key Peninsula Middle School, is the most subdued of the brothers. He has a mix of the aggressiveness and go-with-the-flow mentality of his younger brothers. In addition to his club success, where he has a 58-9 record and recently placed in the Top 6 at the national level, Peyton won the regional championship in his weight class (98 pounds) for KPMS last school year and looks to repeat this upcoming season.
The Beckett brothers win so often at various tournaments across the country that their parents have a new rule: medals can only be displayed in their bedrooms for one year before they are bagged up and put in the garage. They have a place in their house reserved for trophies and plaques.
With a combined record of 210 wins and only 19 losses, the boys admit the big problem with their success is they haven’t learned how to lose.
“Sometimes we kind of throw a fit,” Preston said. His dad quickly jumped in, laughing: “There’s no ‘kind of’ about it.”
Amber says Paxton gets the most down after a rare loss, because of the three brothers he takes the sport the most seriously.
Justin tries to help them ease into it by comparing wins and losses to life experiences. “Even though you work as hard as you possibly can work, you might not win. That’s OK,” he said. “You’re not defined by winning, you’re defined by how you react to losing.”
“They’ve matured quite a bit through the sport, but there’s still room to grow,” Amber said.
Even with all the wins, the boys stay humble at school, rarely talking about their wrestling success unless someone asks about it. They also don’t bring aggressiveness from the mat onto school grounds.
But at home, it’s a different story.
Having three skilled wrestlers under the same roof changes the dynamic of roughhousing.
Like most brotherly bouts, they evolve from gentle horseplay to hard-hitting action. Peyton says it’s usually he and Paxton doing the fighting, while Preston plays peacemaker. “But (Preston) is also the one who starts most of our fights,” Peyton said. It’s typical brother stuff and while there is internal competitiveness among the three, there’s also obvious love and support.
They do almost everything together: practice four nights a week together, manage their diets together, do schoolwork together, and explore the country together. The brothers travel yearly to tournaments in Iowa, Oklahoma, Utah, Nevada and Oregon, not to mention across Washington. Paxton is set to compete at a tournament later this year in Pennsylvania and was invited to his first international event in Estonia next spring.
All three love driving to tournaments because they know the way there is all business, and the way back home is all pleasure. After having to watch their diets pre-tournament to stay underweight, win or lose, all three get to indulge in a post-tournament ice cream bender.
But Justin offers an extra incentive to his boys: “Winners get sprinkles.”
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