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Soria twins pose identical problems

Mike, Max, Max, Mike, it's all so very confusing. It's really difficult to tell the identical twins from Kings Park apart. Imagine what opponents must think when they look across the wrestling mat. What they see is double trouble.

"It doesn't matter who they're going to wrestle," said Mike Soria, the state's defending champion at 96 pounds. "Whether it's me or Max, it's going to be a very tough match."

So it goes for the state's most famous wrestling twins. The seniors, who weighed 1 pound, 9 ounces at birth, were born two minutes apart on Sept. 13, 1991. They were three months premature and say they barely made it out of the neonatal unit at Stony Brook University Hospital.

From the beginning, life has been about survival for the Soria boys.

"We've been battling our whole lives," Mike Soria said. "That was the first battle. Doctors said we were miracle babies because we survived."

The Soria brothers grabbed the spotlight in last year's Division I state championships in Albany when they advanced to wrestle each other in the tournament's quarterfinal round. Fearing family turmoil if that had occurred, Max Soria stepped aside and allowed his brother to advance uncontested into the state semifinals.

"We have a family rule that we don't wrestle each other," Max said. "It was the hardest thing I've had to do in my life. And it really put the pressure on my brother to win the states because he was wrestling for both of us."

Mike Soria completed a state championship run with a thorough 7-0 win over Longwood's Corey Rasheed to capture the 96-pound weight class. He became the first state champion in Kings Park history.

"It was stressful but worth it," Mike Soria said. "It was my time in the spotlight. And now it's time for Max to shine."

Max Soria wrestled back to finish third in the state tournament. The two have alternated between 103 and 112 pounds this season.

"We're going to switch weight classes for dual meets and tournaments throughout the season," Max said. "But we're both going 103 pounds in the county tournament."

With the two wrestlers competing at 103 pounds, what happens if they qualify for the state tournament and are destined to meet again?

"I have to return the favor and step aside for him," Mike said. "It would be his chance to be a state champion. Of course, we'd want to be co-champions, but we don't know if that's possible. We'd have to get there first."

So here we go again. No rule has been adopted to accommodate or address such a sibling situation for this season. The state's wrestling committee is expected to meet through a telephone conference call Jan. 14, but the sibling issue is not on the agenda.

"We can't change the criteria in a seeded tournament," said Bob Panariello, the Section XI wrestling chairman and director of athletics at Islip. "And we can't change the seeds because that would interfere with the integrity of the tournament. There are no plans to make a change."

But Panariello added that the Soria brothers did finish first and third in the state and agreed that it is not inconceivable that they could earn the first and second seeds in the state bracket and therefore be split from each other anyway.

"And if we get to the state finals against each other, we'd have to decide what to do," Mike said. "That's a long way off. Maybe we could be co-champions. Maybe we wrestle."

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