In his own way, each of Kingway High School's trio of Kinner brothers had something to prove in the first wrestling tournament of the season.

Mission accomplished, times three.

For senior Trace Kinner, it was busting free of the doubts that lingered from two concussions that kept him sidelined for most of the nine months since he injured-defaulted in the Region 8 tournament in March.

For junior Quinn Kinner, it was building on the momentum of a sensational sophomore season and serving notice that he fully intends to take that next step to the top of the podium at the state championships in Atlantic City.

And for freshman Cheney Kinner, it was showing he was ready to compete along with his older siblings against some of the top high school wrestlers in the state, and beyond.

"For all three of us to do well, that made it that much more special," Trace Kinner said. "You always want to wrestle well, but when your brothers wrestle well too, it makes it awesome."

Competing at the prestigious Beast of the East tournament at the University of Delaware, the Kinner brothers combined for 14 victories, with Trace and Quinn both landing high on the podium in their respective weight classes.

Competing at 138 pounds, Trace Kinner took fourth place, beating the fourth, sixth, and 10th seeds along the way.

More important, according to first-year Kingsway coach Mike Barikian, Trace Kinner knocked off the rust and shed the hesitation that had marked some of his preseason workouts.

"It's always tough coming back," Barikian said. "But once Trace got going, he went on a tear. He was a different wrestler. It was great to see."

Trace Kinner suffered a concussion in the 120-pound finals at Region 8 last March. He sat out the state tournament, then suffered another concussion in a practice session about a month later.

That limited Trace Kinner's ability to compete through the spring, summer, and much of the fall. He said his first tournament since the regional was an independent competition a couple of weeks ago.

"I had been lifting, so I felt strong," Trace Kinner said. "But I hadn't competed that much. It felt great to get out there and wrestle, and wrestle well."

Competing at 132 pounds, Quinn Kinner took second. He lost the title bout to Blair Academy's Zach Sherman in overtime.

Sherman is ranked sixth in the nation by Intermat. Quinn Kinner is ranked 18th.

"It builds your confidence," said Quinn Kinner, who took third in the state at 126 pounds last season. "I had a lot of confidence after last season, but this just boosted it even more, to compete against some of the best wrestlers around and do that well."

Said Barikian: "Quinn was Quinn. He's a special wrestler."

Competing at 113 pounds, Cheney Kinner lost the first bout of his high school career by a 7-0 score.

But he bounced back to win four straight in wrestlebacks, an impressive showing for a freshman in his first varsity competition.

"For him to go 4-2, that was awesome," Quinn Kinner said. "He's my workout partner, I told him he could do it. If this doesn't prove to him that he can compete with anybody, nothing will."

Cheney Kinner and fellow Kingsway freshman McKenzie Bell, a scrappy 106-pounder, both won four bouts in their varsity debuts at one of the top tournaments on the East Coast.

"Once I lost that first one, I just didn't want to lose again," Cheney Kinner said. "I just started wrestling to win, not thinking about losing."

The impressive performances made for a pleasant ride home for the three brothers on Sunday night - and set the stage for what could be a special season.

Since they are unlikely to wrestle together in college, this year probably will be the only time the three brothers will compete on the same team.

Quinn Kinner said that's something of a dream come true.

"It's like when you're a little kid and you think, 'When we're in high school we'll all be wrestling together,' " Quinn Kinner said. "When it actually happens, it's so much fun."

@PhilAnastasia

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