By: Tommy Bennett, AU Athletic Communications Student-Assistant
For the past two NCAA Wrestling Championships, American University redshirt sophomore Josh Terao has been a spectator. He sat in the stands while his older brother, David, electrified sellout crowds with his spectacular takedowns. But after taking second place in the 125-pound weight class at the EIWA Championships, Josh won't simply be a cheerleader.
"I'm just relieved that I'm finally a NCAA Qualifier," said Josh Terao. "I'm excited for what's to come in St. Louis."
Last season, David became the 17th All-American in AU wrestling history by taking fourth in the 125-pound weight class. He graduated last May and is now the volunteer assistant coach at AU, where his main role is working with the lightweights (125-141 pounds).
"It's fun to watch because David gets onto Josh about the exact same things that we got onto David about," said AU head wrestling coach Teague Moore. "When he was an athlete, there were a number of times that we had to kind of get David's beliefs going in the same direction."
When Josh was first being recruited out of Hawaii by Moore, David had already been on the roster for three years. Moore wasn't sure what to expect from Josh's recruiting process.
"I was still fearful that he was going to look at other schools," Moore said. "Other schools were on him because they saw David's success," Moore added that Josh had to decide between being close to his brother or distancing himself to create his own path.
"What won out, in the end, is [Josh] wanted to be training with his brother — and in that same environment with his brother — more so than breaking out of his brother's shadow," said Moore.
But the shadow still remains. David became the darling of the NCAA tournament in Madison Square Garden last season, earning a standing ovation after his third place match.
In the arena, fans were stopping Josh and asking for autographs and selfies, falsely believing that they were talking to David. But Josh has no resentment for his brother's success and newfound fame in the wrestling community.
"David's always helped me out by getting me into the right mindset," Terao said. "I trust that him being in my corner at St. Louis is just going to push me over the edge, and we'll pull some Terao magic."
That Terao magic resulted in a spot on the awards podium last March, and Moore believes David's journey provided Josh with a roadmap of what it takes to reach the pinnacle of college wrestling."
It brought a realism to his wrestling and now definitely feels he can not only become an All-American, but Josh believes he can become a national champion because of what he saw David do," Moore said.
"I don't want to say I'm just like David because I'm a totally different wrestler even though we both have, I guess, unorthodox styles," Terao said. "I just want to make my own path in St. Louis and show that the Terao brothers are both All-Stars at wrestling that can get it done multiple ways."
The comparisons draw themselves: they share the same last name, the same weight class and the same university.
"When does Josh Terao stop becoming David Terao's little brother?" pondered Moore. "To overcome big brother shadows, as a younger brother you have to attain something that your brother didn't."
David had to wait until his senior season to reach the podium at NCAAs. If Josh earns All-American status in his first attempt, he takes a big step out of David's shadow.
And fans might be stopping David for photos, thinking they found the current 125-pounder for American University. One thing is for certain: Josh Terao will not be a bystander in St. Louis.