No matter how good an athlete is, if he grew up with an older sibling who excelled in sports, the two are always compared.
For Bingham’s Paul Langi, the shadow of older brother Harvey’s All-American football career would be impossible to duplicate. The younger Langi has heard the comparisons for years, and while they’ve never really bothered him, he says they’ve given him added incentive.
Paul Langi hates to lose
Bingham senior Paul Langi has been compared with big brother Harvey for as long as he can remember. A standout on the Miner football, wrestling and track teams, Paul Langi will be looking to cast his own shadow on Utah sports as one of the favorites in the Class 5A 195-pound bracket.
Paul Langi broke the family mold as the first Langi to try out for the wrestling team, but he had to convince his mom, Kelesita, first. Langi’s plea must have been a good one, as younger brother Daniel is on the team as a freshman.
A self described “ultracompetitor,” Paul Langi hates to lose at anything — especially video-game competitions with his younger brothers.
"For most of my high-school career, I felt like I had to follow in his footsteps and be really good at everything," said Langi. "It wasn’t Harvey’s fault, but there was some pressure with everyone else making a big deal out of his success."
Paul Langi’s senior football season resulted in 44 tackles, four sacks and an interception. Not good enough for All-American consideration, but enough to land the Bingham senior a scholarship at Idaho State.
Bingham football coach Dave Peck calls Paul Langi the "total package," a kid who got better every game from his linebacker position.
"Paul is one of those kids I never had to worry about," said Peck. "He’s always had a great attitude, is really respected by his peers and by the end of the year he was playing phenomenal football."
Football is a game that resonates in the home of Langi’s parents, Sam and Kelesita. Older brother Sam plays at Scottsdale Community College, and Harvey is coming off a freshman season at the University of Utah.
Langi decided to break the family mold as a freshman when he joined the wrestling team, despite some skepticism from his mom. Because of its physical nature and aggressive style, Langi fell in love with the sport immediately. A state qualifier as a sophomore and a third-place finisher at the 2011 Class 5A state meet at 189 pounds last year, Langi is thinking big for next month’s tournament.
"I was pretty disappointed with us not winning the football title, and that motivates me every day in wrestling ," he said. "Wrestling is an individual sport, and it would feel so good to win it."
Langi is affectionately known by his wrestling teammates as Quiet Monster because of a voracious reading appetite and an aggressive wrestling style that’s accounted for 25 pins this season.
Miner wrestling coach Matt Walker has seen his star pupil progress every season and would like nothing better than to send the 195-pound senior out in style.
"The joke around here is we call him the real Langi," said Walker. "Harvey wasn’t a wrestler, and Paul is great at football, wrestling and track… He’s the real deal, and that’s what really matters."
Walker said Langi is usually a little slow to get started during wrestling season because he’s involved in so many other things that it takes him a while to get back to wrestling mode.
For those who suggest Langi could have been an even better football player if he’d concentrated on one sport, Langi offers this simple equation.
"Wrestling = toughness, and track = endurance, but wrestling + track = better football player."
Suddenly, that shadow doesn’t seem so big anymore.
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