Burlington’s wrestling Soda twins eye college futures

From a very early age, Cam and Zack Soda knew exactly what they wanted to do in college.
“We started wrestling in first or second grade,” said Zack, who like his twin brother, is a senior at Burlington High School. “In 2015, we went to the NCAA championships. In other years, we’d have people over our house to watch the NCAAs.”
Next year, the Sodas will begin their quests to compete in that tournament. This week, they signed National Letters of Intent to wrestle for Edinboro University, a Division I program in Pennsylvania.
“That was a relief,” said Cam. “The process was really stressful. Wrestling in Division I was a goal of mine.”
Last winter, the twins both won New England championships, Zack at 106 pounds and Cam at 113. Zack won the All-State and Division 2 state titles, while Cam placed second in both tournaments.
“It was nice to have both of them win the New Englands,” said Burlington athletic director Shaun Hart. “Usually one would win a tournament and the other would come in second. It was good for their father on the way home to not have to be happy for one and commiserate with the other.”
After successful youth careers in Burlington and at Doughboy Wrestling Club in Lowell, the twins joined the team at Burlington High as freshmen, both weighing 80 pounds. The lightest weight class in high school wrestling is 106.
“It was frustrating at times,” said Burlington coach Paul Shvartsman. “They grew as sophomores and never gave up. Their technique kept getting better and better and they added size.”
Before deciding on Edinboro, the Sodas looked at schools in New England, as well as Pennsylvania and Ohio, including Kent State, Clarion, Western New England and Sacred Heart.
“I liked Edinboro from the start,” Cam said. “We went to a camp there when we were in middle school. We just felt really good there. We wanted to go to the same place, but we would have been OK if we had to split up.”
Being teammates as well as brothers has its advantages.
“You always have someone to drill with,” Zack said. “We can give each other tips and help each other. Cam is better on top. I do better in the neutral position.”
The twins are the latest in a long line of New Englanders to wrestle for the Fighting Scots. The current roster includes former Herald All-Scholastic Fritz Hoehn of North Andover, who is now a graduate student, and freshman Beau Dillon of Salem, New Hampshire.
“As a kid, I looked up to Fritz Hoehn,” Cam said. “We know Beau Dillon.”
There’s another former Edinboro wrestler who has made an impact on the Sodas.
“My coach (at Doughboy) was an All-American,” Zack said. That would be David Shunamon, a former great at Tewksbury High who was an All-American at Edinboro in 2001.
“Cam and Zack have earned everything they’ve gotten,” Shunamon said. “I’ve coached them for a long time. The kids from around here who have gone to Edinboro have always had a tremendous work ethic and a passion for the sport. They’re always great teammates.”
The Fighting Scots’ current head coach, Matt Hill, was a teammate of Shunamon’s at Edinboro.
“He reached out to me about them,” Shunamon said.
This year, the Sodas will be in their second season as captains of the Red Devils.
“Our lightweights are all really strong,” Shvartsman said. “Anytime you have Division 1 kids in the room, it helps everyone get better.”
The MIAA has moved the wrestling season from the winter to the spring. There will be no New England tournament. The Sodas will continue training at Doughboys and competing in tournaments.
“They’ve been all over the country wrestling,” Hart said. “I can’t see one without the other.”
Their parents, Darleane and Billy, have played a significant role in their careers.
“I can’t say enough about their support,” Shunamon said. “Their mom works out at Doughboy’s. Their dad is a friend and I’m always seeking advice from him.”
Since it is uncertain what, if any tournaments will be held during the spring high school season, the Sodas’ goals are slightly different than they are in most seasons.
“I want to go undefeated,” Zack said. “I know I’ll have a big target on my back.”

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