THE graduation clock ticked away at Brian Wichman’s high school days, but Christian Wichman wasn’t overly concerned that his older brother is about to leave home for college.
Not from a family standpoint anyway.
“He’s always mad,” Christian said of his brother, who has been his friend, teammate and adversary. “And if we fight, I usually back off. I will let him beat me up.”
Sitting in the athletic director’s office at Columbus East High School, it was difficult to tell when the two brothers were being serious and when they were teasing.
“I don’t think I will miss him as a brother,” said Christian, a 17-year-old junior. “But we are going to miss him as a player.”
No one around Columbus East would argue that fact. The two led Columbus East to a regional football championship this season, and they have helped the Olympians’ baseball team to an exceptional campaign that now turns toward the sectional playoffs.
“The thing I would say about both those guys would be their consistency,” said Columbus East Athletic Director Bob Gaddis. “It’s not that we always knew they would be around, but that they have been consistent producers on game day. They made a lot of big plays in both sports. Their consistency and effort has been great to have. There have been a lot of games here with Wichmans on the field.”
Although the two brothers would argue about who is the fastest (“It depends on the day,” says Christian), their speed has set them apart from other players. Gaddis, who doubles as East’s football coach, designed his defense around Brian Wichman because of his ability to make plays all over the field. Christian, despite his size at 5-foot-7, was a playmaker at linebacker because of his knack for getting to the football in a hurry. He also has been a terrific tailback.
In baseball, Brian is the starting center fielder (.288 batting average, team high 18 runs scored) and a pitcher (3-1, 1.65 ERA). Christian handles the catching duties and leads the team in doubles (10) and home runs (4). He is hitting .368.
Brian, who is a 5-foot-11 senior, talked about his brother as a football player.
“I would say that you don’t want to get in his way,” he said of Christian. “And good luck catching him.”
As a baseball player?
“You should try to pitch around him,” Brian said. “And when he is catching, you don’t run on him.”
Christian returned the respect.
“Brian likes to win, and he always has worked hard for the things he needs to get,” Christian said. “His sophomore year he wasn’t playing so he stepped up and got faster and stronger.”
Their dad, Brian Wichman (he and his son have different middle names), said that Christian was not being serious about missing his brother.
“After the Cathedral game (East lost to Cathedral in the football semi-state playoff game), Christian was torn up,” said the elder Wichman, halting a bit to check his own emotions. “He couldn’t talk. We asked him if it was because of the loss. He said, ‘No, it was the last time I will ever play football with BT.”
Although Brian Tyler Wichman had an advantage in size over his younger brother when they were young, they spent a lot of time throwing each other around.
“I don’t remember them putting each other down or getting into fights, but when they were younger, gosh, anywhere from 3 years old to 8 years old, they had a game they came up with at our house,” the father said. “They called it, ‘Beat-up.’ They would clear the floor, and basically they would wrestle. They would get each other on the ground and beat the tar out of each other. Each one wanted to win, but they never would get mad at each other and start hauling off and punching each other.”
Brian won more than his share of “beat-up” contests because Christian lagged behind in terms of size. “Christian was born at 2 pounds, 11 ounces,” his father explained. “He was born at 30 weeks so he was small when he was younger.”
Although Christian was small, he shared his brother’s, and his family’s, competitive nature. Their mom, Cathy, was a three-sport athlete at Seymour High School, playing volleyball, basketball and softball. She earned all-state honors in softball. Their dad was a baseball player at Seymour.
Softening the blow of Brian leaving East is the fact that two more Wichmans are on the way. Noah, 15, will be a sophomore next year, and 12-year-old Jonah is a future Olympian.
But it just won’t be the same next school year with Christian carrying the load without his older brother.
“Christian already has been very successful in his athletic career,” Gaddis said. “But I’m sure he will miss Brian as a friend and teammate. With the technology we have now, though, I am sure they will communicate often.”
Brian has accepted a baseball scholarship to Murray State in Murray, Ky., and the two brothers are thinking about reuniting down the road. Their father said that Murray State already has made it known that Christian would be welcome in its baseball program.
Christian said he is determined to finish off his high school athletic career the best he can. “He’s going somewhere (to play baseball in college),” Christian said. “I want to go somewhere.”
Pitching at Murray State is going to be different for Brian without his brother catching.
“Now when I throw one in the dirt now and bruise him, I don’t have to worry,” Brian said. “It’s just him.”