Lehigh wrestlers, junior Darian Cruz and Randy Cruz stand after a workout at the Caruso Complex on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. The brothers have career records of 81-19 and 97-39, respectively. (Sam Topp/B&W Staff)

Siblings in Sports: Darian and Randy Cruz


Redshirt junior Randy Cruz and redshirt sophomore Darian Cruz have been wrestling together almost their entire lives.

Growing up in the Bethlehem area, the Cruz brothers wrestled in the shadows of Lehigh, and they eventually went to Bethlehem Catholic High School. The brothers always wrestled and competed against each other, with their dad as their assistant coach.

Randy Cruz said their dad coached them until high school, giving them the individual attention they needed to succeed. He was always the strict parent in terms of wrestling and academics, stressing and losing sleep before tournaments while going over films again and again.

“He took it on himself to push us as hard as we can,” Darian Cruz said. “At times when we wouldn’t want to do stuff, and it would be hard for us, he took the effort and time to push us that much further. In the spur of the moment, I hated it because we were just getting pushed and pushed and pushed, but in the long run it helped ten-fold because we had characteristics and mentalities coming into college that a lot of kids do not have.”

Once they got to high school, their school’s coaches took over to get them to the next level. This trend continued into college. All their dad has to do now is drive 10 minutes to watch them wrestle, rather than worry about coaching them through the match.

Spending their childhood wrestling with and against each other has made them close.

“He is my brother, one of my best friends, the best drill partner,” Randy Cruz said. “We just know each other really well. If there is any problems I could always talk to him. It’s really cool that I always have that person on a team, when we go back home, or just everywhere.”

This connection has become apparent to their teammates here at Lehigh, in and out of wrestling. Junior Drew Longo said you can tell that they feed off of each other’s energy in everything they do, not just wrestling.

Randy Cruz said growing up, he and his brother always looked up to college wrestlers, particularly ones from Lehigh. They had the added benefit of knowing Lehigh coach Pat Santoro, fellow Bethlehem Catholic alumnus, so when it came time to recruit, Santoro reached out to the brothers. They both liked Lehigh right away.

“For me, personally, it was just something that I had always been around,” Darian Cruz said. “I was local, so I got to see a lot of the Lehigh athletes and wrestlers compete when I was in elementary school and high school. Just seeing that at a young age, I really wanted to be part of that and wear a Lehigh symbol one day.”

Today, the Cruz brothers are both All-American wrestlers and have EIWA titles.

In his first year, Darian Cruz became the first freshman All-American for Lehigh since 1980, finishing second in the 125-pound weight class and battling back from a first round loss as an unseeded wrestler in the NCAA Tournament. He fell just short of bringing home an EIWA title his freshman year, finishing third in the championship. Even though his brother couldn’t be there, Darian Cruz talked to him every step of the way.

“My first year when I was an All-American, I called him after every match just to talk to him (because) I was really nervous being out there, and he was one of the people to really calm me down,” Darian Cruz said. “He was redshirting that year, so he couldn’t be there with me. But I called him every chance I got and just talked to him, and he just calmed me down and told me that I was ready to do anything.”

Randy Cruz has two EIWA titles: one captured in the 133-pound weight class his freshman year and the other in the 141-pound weight class his redshirt sophomore year.

This year, the roles switched for the two brothers after Randy Cruz brought home his first All-American title and his brother captured his first EIWA title. The former finished seventh in the 141-pound weight class at the NCAA Tournament, capturing the All-American title after dropping a 3-1 sudden victory decision against University of North Carolina’s Joey Ward. The latter won his first EIWA title, defeating Bucknell University’s Paul Petrov in the 125-pound weight class.

Randy Cruz said while he wishes his brother was on the podium with him this year, he is glad they have both been able to reach some of the accomplishments they wanted to achieve. He said it is great for him to achieve these goals and know that he has another year, while his brother has another two to keep practicing and improving.

Darian Cruz echoed the comment, saying the flop in titles this year is bittersweet, but it is something they have talked about as brothers. They can now share that they are both EIWA champions and both have All-American status, so he feels the reversal was good for both of them.

Darian Cruz credits his success at Lehigh and beforehand to his brother.

“I give all the credit to my brother because he did everything first,” Darian Cruz said. “He is a year older than me, so that was an extra year I got to get involved in the next level of the sport. My senior year (of high school), I was able to get a feel and be aware of how the college atmosphere was like a year earlier than most freshmen usually do.”

For Randy Cruz, his last and final goal is a national title. A title would mean cementing his place on the Hall of Fame in the entrance way of the Caruso Wrestling Complex.

“It’s an honor to be on that wall with your big picture up,” Randy Cruz said. “Every day I walk in here, and you just walk by and you see all the guys. Most of them you know because they keep coming back to say hi, so that’s the ultimate goal.”

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