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For anyone who wants to tell Sean and Todd Noste apart, it's the hair that is the giveaway.
The identical twins, who are juniors at South Whidbey High School, have pretty much everyone fooled. It's not because they're trying to -- they say they've never once swapped classes at school or tried to pass as one another in front of a teacher. But as nearly perfect copies from their equal 6-foot statures to their quiet, pensive personalities, the only thing that gives them away is that Sean wears his hair shorter than Todd's -- at the moment, anyway.
How many people miss that simple cue?
"Just about everybody, even our Dad," said Sean Noste.
Even those who know the twins well cannot, for the most part, tell them apart when the Nostes want to keep people guessing.
There is one person who can figure out who is who; their wrestling coach, Mike Crebbin. Though both boys have grown up in a basketball family and spent their younger years watching the high school teams their father, Mark, coached, they both left the boards behind for the ring on the mat. Sean was the first, starting in middle school. Todd joined the high school squad as a sophomore after being cut from the basketball team.
Two minutes older than his brother and about eight pounds heavier, Todd is nonetheless still trying to catch up with Sean on the wrestling mat. He wrestled many of his matches this year as a junior varsity competitor. At today's North Cascades Conference meet, he is on the varsity team as the Falcons' number-two man at 160 pounds. Sean is wrestling in the second spot at 152 pounds.
While their faces and builds are the same, it's what they do on the mat that gives them away to their coach and to wrestling fans.
"They're different wrestlers; it's pretty obvious," Crebbin said.
The confusion the twins cause when they wrestle at a different school has little to do with the similarities, Crebbin said. It's their last name that is the problem. Pronounced like the word "most," Noste confuses wrestling announcers who cannot get past the "e." After hearing that letter pronounced with their names a few times last year, the other guys on the team have taken to calling the brothers "The Nosties."
Though they are both wrestlers now, Sean and Todd said they did not get their start through brotherly fights. Both 17, they still share a bedroom at home. Even though Sean said his brother "owns 99 percent" of that room and characterizes him as the slob of the pair, the twins get along.
"It'd be hard to fight all the time because we're together all the time," he said.
Any fighting energy gets dished out at wrestling practice. Since the boys are the same size, they often face off in the training ring. Sean still has the moves to win, but by next year Todd may start becoming his brother's equal in sport as well as in appearance. That is Coach Crebbin's hope, anyway.
"They're both tall and they're starting to fill out," he said.
Like a lot of the other guys on the team, the twins are hoping to make it through the conference and district meets early this month to make it to the state championship in Tacoma on Feb. 15. Getting there, they said, it is a matter of mental attitude.
"I need to turn it on here," Todd said.