They're friends, teammates and they're hoping to call each other state champions. This weekend, Cullen Telfer and Noah Ridley have a chance to accomplish what few others have at their age: a state wrestling title as 8th graders who are home schooled.
"As an 8th grader winning the state title, it definitely puts you in a unique group of kids," said John Telfer, father of Cullen. "God willing he'll be up there."
Cullen is just 14, but will be making his second appearance in the State Championships. For Cullen, nerves won't be a factor because he's faced bigger challenges, older wrestlers and even bulls. He's been riding them since age 9.
"If I can get my mindset that I'm going to defeat an 1800-pound bull, than I can beat a 106-pound high school wrestler," said Cullen.
This is Noah's first time in the ring at State's. He doesn't have the experience that Cullen does, but he has the drive to be part of history.
"They just see me and think they can be me, but they're wrong," Noah said with a smile.
For home school kids that are in high school, they can compete in sports at the school that they are zoned for, but when it comes to middle school there are not a lot of options. Especially in wrestling because there are no public school programs. So to make to the states is even a great achievement.
"What we have here in Brandon is a really unique opportunity with the Tampa Bay Heat [club team]," said John Teller. "It's a program that the state has approved for FHSAA. Comprised of only home schoolers."
This is special opportunity for these two and for their families who are already proud of what they've accomplished.
"I worked pretty hard this year for it," Cullen said. "Hoping to get on top of the podium."
The Florida High School State Finals get underway in Lakeland on Friday.
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