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Angela Perez was on the trackwrestling.com site a while back, checking on her son’s progress, when she noticed irregularities. The son was competing at the University of Iowa, and the appropriate results appeared from his high-level college matches. But the entries also included a first-place finish at a tournament for 6-year-olds in Vacaville, as well as a local middle school competition.

To anyone but Angela Perez, this would qualify as a weird mystery.

I got to the bottom of it myself recently with a visit to the Perez family, on a quiet cul-de-sac near Windsor High School. Perez Perez, age 2, greeted me at the door, lifted his arms as if to be picked up and started telling me about how he wrestled a boy. In the living room was the family patriarch, Perez Perez, and the rest of his and Angela’s sons — Perez Perez, Perez Perez, Perez Perez and Perez Perez. Later, Perez’s son from a previous marriage, Perez Perez Jr., would show up with his son, Perez Perez III.

It’s a brainteaser that might be stumping North Bay wrestling followers for years.

Among family and close friends, the boys are addressed by their middle names. So Perez Emilio Perez, Angela’s oldest child and a junior at Iowa next year, is Emilio in the family circle. After him come David, 18 and a senior at Windsor; Leo, 10, fifth grade; Eli, 8, third grade; and Silas, who met me at the front door.

We will use those middle names in this story, as they do in the household, because to rely on first names would be to invite insanity.

“Oh, yeah, it would just be confusing,” Perez Sr. said. Then he added: “We don’t care if you’re confused.”

Not by now.

When Perez Sr. was a boy in Dinuba, the small San Joaquin Valley town, his father worked for the public cemetery. At one point the city moved a trailer onto the property and the family moved in, necessitating a school change for the boy. On his first day of class, he was drawn into the Abbott-and-Costello conversation in which all the Perez males have participated so many times.

What’s your name, the teacher asked. “Perez.”

What’s your last name? “Perez.”

No, then what’s your first name? “Perez.”

Around and around they went. The teacher thought the kid was being sassy and was about to send him to the principal’s office when he finally convinced her that his name was an echo. She composed herself and continued. OK, what’s your address?

“I don’t know,” Perez said. “We live in the cemetery.”

And that was just the first day of school. By now, the Perezes are intimately familiar with the “what’s your name” routine.

“At times it was probably once a day. But at least once a week, I have to explain it to somebody,” Perez Sr. said. “Usually I have to show my ID.”

And the double name becomes considerably trickier when it is repeated in each son like a strand of DNA. Teachers, coaches and casual acquaintances have all been struck dumb. It happened here at the PD, too. We were amused several years ago when a boy named Perez Perez emerged as one of our top local wrestlers at Windsor, and baffled a few years later when he had moved on to Iowa but “Perez Perez” started showing up again in our wrestling results.

Trips to the doctor can be frustrating. Kaiser-Permanente uses first name, middle initial and last name for its records. The Perezes hadn’t considered that when they gave two of their sons the same middle initial.

All of this started rather obscurely. Perez Sr.’s father, David, decided at a tender age, maybe 5 years old, that he would one day have a son, and that the son would be named Perez Perez. David Perez visited recently, and the family asked him again, “Grandpa, why?” He isn’t sure. He just knew it would happen.

And Perez Perez Sr. was almost as young when he decided that he would have a junior. After that came to fruition, and Perez and Angela got together and had a son of their own, it just seemed right to them to do the “Perez Perez” thing again. And once two of the brothers were so branded, they didn’t want to leave anyone else out.

The boys must be annoyed at having to explain it all so frequently, but they embrace their name proudly. Perez Sr. asked all of them to use Perez out in the world rather than their middle names, and they are happy to do so.

This can have interesting results. Emilio’s friends call him Perez, though they call the other brothers by their middle names. David’s friends call him Perez and refer to the others by middle names. And so on. Even when multiple friends are over, the family insists, if someone says “Perez,” somehow the right one always turns his head in response.

Pride in the male name is so strong, in fact, that David asked his Windsor coach, Rich Carnation, to call him Perez when he started wrestling there.

Carnation said he couldn’t do that; Emilio had earned the distinction as a three-time CIF state qualifier. It bugged David, who had long competed in his older (if smaller) brother’s shadow.

Cut to the 152-pound semifinals at the North Coast Section championships last year. David faced Simon Ermolov, a wrestler from Redwood. Ermolov had beaten David convincingly at a previous tournament, but it was touch-and-go when Ermolov called an injury timeout with 20 or 30 seconds left.

Cody Howe, Carnation’s assistant, offered to talk strategy with David. “No,” Carnation said, “I got this.”

He told his wrestler, “You’ve been wanting to be Perez Perez your whole life. Well, you’re David Perez. There’s only one thing that will get me to call you Perez Perez. Let’s see how good you are. I’ll know in the next 20 seconds if you’re David Perez or Perez Perez.”

“He went out and tore that kid up in the last 20 seconds,” Carnation told me. “I told Cody, ‘You could have told him all the greatest technique in the world, it wouldn’t have mattered. He would walk through fire for people to call him Perez Perez.’”

David won his next match, too, and was the section champion at 152 pounds.

The name tradition is so strong that the Perez’s only daughter, Carmen, is half-seriously bitter that her parents didn’t name her Perez Carmen Rose Perez.

“I feel left out,” she said.

But Carmen, about to enter eighth grade, isn’t left out of the wrestling. She’s a good one, like her brothers (excluding Perez Jr., who did not take up the sport).

Emilio spent his first two years at Iowa — if you aren’t familiar with the sport, the Hawkeyes are to wrestling what Alabama is to football — biding time at 125 pounds behind Thomas Gilman, who just won the 57-kilogram class at the U.S. Freestyle World Team Trials. With Gilman graduated, Emilio will compete for the No. 1 slot at 125.

And David, who actually began to wrestle a year before Emilio but had to work harder at it, seems to be following a similar path. He will be among the top wrestlers in his weight group as a Windsor senior when competition begins next winter. Carmen has been very successful in the girls’ brackets, and Carnation thinks Leo, Eli and Silas could wind up being the best of the bunch because of their long exposure to the sport. At 2, Silas already has a couple of scrimmage matches under his belt.

Wrestling, more than a quirky name game, is what binds this family. Many of the photos on the interior walls depict kids in singlets. Perez Sr. has helped run Windsor Wrestling Club for years. He or David frequently plop a wrestling mat right on the living room carpet to practice the 15 moves they have developed as a training regimen.

When one kid has a wrestling match, all the Perezes go.

“The rest of the family knows, when it’s wrestling season we don’t go to things,” Angela said. “If someone is having a birthday party or something like that, they’ll always check to see if we’ll be in town that weekend.”

Carnation, who unsuccessfully lobbied Perez and Angela to name their most recent child Perez Richard Perez, gets a kick out of the whole thing.

“I think the Perez Perez name will be associated with Windsor wrestling for a long time. A long, long time,” he said. “I think I’ll be drooling in the stands by the time Silas is wrestling here.”

It might go on longer than that. Perez Sr. has requested that each son name at least one junior, should the opportunity arrive kicking and screaming. Future administrators of trackwrestling.com, take note.

You can reach columnist Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Skinny_Post.

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