‘I broke down:’ Brotherly love forces rare forfeit of high-school wrestling match

One last-minute change of heart upturned a result that had already been decided.

Wrestling with a Decision: Brothers choose family over championship

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A Lakota West High School senior forfeited his wrestling match last weekend rather than face the competition.

No, Josh Brogden doesn’t often shy away from wrestling matches — he has no reason to. But it’s a different story when his younger brother, Jayden, is on the other end.

Now Jayden’s name will appear 2020-2021 in the record books. But it wasn’t supposed to happen that way.

Josh and Jayden, a sophomore, practice against each other every day. Both talented wrestlers, they were aware coming into the tournament Friday there was a possibility they would face off in the finals.

They had agreed they wouldn’t wrestle each other. So they prepared.

The plan was Jayden would forfeit to let Josh, the top seed, through to the district tournament.

“He was originally going to take the forfeit,” Josh said, “because I’m older, and it’s my last year wrestling.”

But Josh’s big brotherliness got the better of him in a behind-the-scenes moment fraught with emotion.

“We went to the back, and I broke down,” he said. “I was like, ‘I can’t do this to him, I can’t let him take the forfeit.’”

Joshua Brogden is the boys’ father. He recalls the tense moments in the hallway as Josh was making his decision.

“He said ‘I can’t do it,’” Joshua said. “He said, ‘Jayden does not deserve second.’ He said, ‘Jayden has worked his butt off.’ He said, ‘I’ve been hard on Jayden our whole life.’ He said, ‘I’ve pushed Jayden.’ He said, ‘Jayden came back from being down 9-2.’ He said, ‘He’s the sectional champ, not me.’”

Jayden protested.

“It was back and forth, back and forth,” Joshua said. “They both were emotional. Jayden said, ‘No, you’re a senior, you take this.’ Josh said, ‘It’s selfish.’ And I told Jayden, ‘Congratulations, you’re the sectionals champ.’”

In the end, the referee raised Jayden’s hand on the mat, perhaps a disappointed victor, but beside a defiant runner-up.

“It means a lot,” Jayden said afterwards. “It means a lot to me, because the fact that he didn’t care, family first, it meant a lot.”

“It was about brotherhood,” Josh said.

Amber Brogden is the boys’ mother.

“It says a lot for me. Josh graduating this year, stepping out into the real world, it makes me feel good,” she said. “He’s not a boy anymore, he’s a young man, and I am very proud of the man that he’s becoming.”

“I’m not raising wrestlers,” Joshua added. “We’re raising young men, and they showed me that night they’re ready.”

Both Josh and Jayden advance to districts. And if they get matched up again?

Jayden says he’ll forfeit for his older brother... and that’s final.

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