Monday, May 23, 2022

Sibling rivalry: Competitiveness and teamwork bring success to Roskos pair

Brother-sister duo has combined for 45 wins on the mat with Delran this season

Special to South Jersey Sports Weekly
The Roskos siblings both led the boys and girls soccer teams at Delran in goals this past season, but are quickly reminding the South Jersey high-school wrestling community of their presence. The two have combined for 45 wins for the Bears’ thus far this season.

Despite the change of the seasons from fall to winter, the Roskos siblings are picking up right where they left off in the fall.

After a girls soccer season in which Kalli Roskos led the team with 17 goals during her senior season and Drew Roskos notched 33 goals en route to a sectional and state championship — and was named South Jersey Sports Weekly’s 2021-’22 Boys Soccer Player of the Year — the two are once again making headlines at Delran High School, but thanks to their contributions on the wrestling mat, not the soccer pitch.

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“It’s awesome to watch; they’re two great kids that are always pushing themselves individually, but then also each other, with them being as close as they are,” Coach Nathan Marter said. 

The siblings, just two years apart, say they are as competitive as anyone might expect two high-school student athletes to be. But that competitiveness and passion for whatever sport is in season has helped them form a special bond that compels the brother and sister to lean on one another in the pursuit of perfecting their sports. 

Of course, when it comes to playing against one another, all bets are off. But when it comes to helping each other get better and work hard in the off-season, they can always count on training together.

“Since we were younger, we’ve always been competitive with one another,” said Drew.  “Like for example, if we would play mini-golf somewhere, if I would beat her she’d be upset about it for the whole week, because there’s that competitiveness between us.

“But in the end, we’re out to help each other and it really does benefit both of us.”

The two have grown up in a wrestling family, with a father who wrestled at Princeton during his college career and inspired his son’s interest in the sport at a young age. With plenty of time being around her dad and brother, Kalli was interested too, but didn’t feel she had the chance to try wrestling until the recent emergence of female wrestling teams in South Jersey.

“It wasn’t until my sophomore year [at Delran] that I had a chance to join an actual girls team, but I was always kind of interested in it because of growing up around the sport,” Kalli said. “Just from watching practices and matches, you could see how hard they worked, and I felt like I had that similar drive, but it wasn’t popular for girls, so it kind of steered me away until I had an actual girls team that I could join.” 

Two years later, Kalli sits at 23-4 so far this season at Delran and is ranked among the top wrestlers in the state at her weight class. Marter coached Kalli in basketball during her freshman year, before a girls wrestling team was officially formed, and he felt she was a natural fit for the team.

“She was a good, tough basketball player, but I thought she might have some more success in wrestling, which was luckily an easy sell for her due to her family’s background,” Marter said. “What stands out most about her is her work ethic; she’s a natural leader on the mat. 

“I knew as I was recruiting her at first that she would have success … It’s all thanks to her approach and the amount of work she puts in,” he added.

Meanwhile, Drew’s 24-1 record this year follows a freshman year when he didn’t see action because of a broken elbow before the season’s start. Despite inexperience at the high-school level, Drew has had no trouble finding success, winning three individual tournaments so far this season, as well as most recently being named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Burlington County Tournament at the end of January. 

Entering the season, Drew was understandably unsure what his ceiling was, after missing all of last year. But he prepared himself as well as he could and kept working hard as the season progressed.

“In the wrestling realm, I hadn’t really had the chance to prove myself in a while,  between being hurt last year, and with states being cancelled due to COVID my eighth grade year,” Drew said. “I was looking forward to being able to put my name out there; it’s definitely more time consuming and intense than I was used to before this season, but I’m seeing myself get better and more used to the season as it goes on.” 

While the Roskos siblings have been on separate paths – Kalli will wrestle at Ursinus College next year while Drew is still in the midst of his high-school career – they’ve had the pleasure of turning what first started as a sibling rivalry into individual and team success at Delran High School.

“We both understood how we could help each other grow when we were younger, and we always kept on each other about practicing and training and working together,” Kalli said. “It really helps having your sibling be that person that probably pushes you the most … 

“We’re better athletes because of it, and better siblings as well.”

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