From the basement to varsity, LaSalle's McLaren brothers keep wrestling

Thanks to his older brother, Mike McLaren may never grow a mustache.

Much to his babysitter's dismay in the early 2000s, the youngest of three future La Salle wrestlers tussled over a plastic sword with his middle brother, Matt. The dispute ended with an emergency room trip and six stitches to Mike's upper lip.

The oldest brother Andrew McLaren, an 18-year-old senior, remembers the incident as vividly as he remembers the family's unfinished basement with a mat, where the boys spent hours wrestling each other under their parent's supervision.

Their father was there for coaching. Their mother was there to keep it civil.

"My mom was usually trying to pull us apart," Andrew said. ". . . There were marks on the walls and stuff."

"We never put holes in the wall," Andrew added. "I know my parents strategically made it so we didn't get the basement done until they knew we wouldn't be playing football or wrestling in the basement. We always had the cement walls when we were kids."

The McLaren brothers are teammates at La Salle. Andrew, a senior, wrestles at 138 pounds. Matthew, a sophomore, wrestles at 113, 120, and 126 pounds. Michael, a freshman, wrestles at 106 and 113 pounds.

With all three roughly 18 months apart, the McLaren boys grew close through wrestling and lacrosse, a process that helped all three of them in developing their ability on the mat.

"Wrestling my brothers as a kid helped a lot," Mike said. "The thing between middle school wrestling and high school wrestling is in middle school you don't do very good moves. . . . Wrestling older people has gotten me into the high school wrestling style."

The boys' father, a former wrestling coach at the Central Bucks Raiders recreational program, still occasionally watches film with his sons. Before high school, spur-of-the-moment wrestling matches were oftentimes broken up in order to receive coaching from their father.

"Even if we were just joking around and rolling around with each other, he'd always stop us," Matt, a sophomore said. "We'd never like it, but he'd always tell us 'Do this, do that' and it would always help us."

Coach Frank Cimato said the time spent with not only a coach, but also a proactive father has made the McLaren boys easier to coach, due to their work ethic and experience with the sport.

"They're all tough kids, they're mentally strong kids and they've been wrestling a long time so they know how tough wrestling is," Cimato said. "They push through it, I know I can push them hard and I do that a lot."

Years removed from the days of cemented walls and stitched lips, the brothers are simply known around their school as "the McLarens" both on and off the mat.

"We're always kind of grouped together," Andrew said. "Especially since we wrestle about the same times, it's always just 'the McLarens.' "

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