The Kilcarr boys

The Kilcarr family has six sons, who all wrestled -- or currently wrestle. In the front row, from left to right, are Trent, Mason and Troy. In the back row, from left to right, are Bryce, Reese and Payton. (Amy Davis / The Baltimore Sun / December 19, 2012)

More than 20 years ago, Donna and Patrick Kilcarr started their family on a path that has traveled through the Reservoir wrestling team for much of the past decade.

Their two oldest sons — Payton, 25, and Bryce, 23 — both wrestled for the Gators and return regularly for their brothers' matches. Mason, a junior, and twins Trent and Troy, both sophomores, currently wrestle on the varsity squad. Reese, a 13-year-old member of the Howard County Vipers travel team, is waiting in the wings.

Their sister, Delaney, 8, was adopted from Russia 6 1/2 years ago. She likes wrestling with her brothers, but her future path may be off the mat.

"We had always hoped for a daughter, but it never happened." Donna said. "We always got boys. We decided there is more than one way to get a girl, and we went all the way to Russia to get her."

When the Kilcarrs walked into the wrestling room to have a photograph taken recently, the smell that met them was unmistakably pungent.

"Smelling this, it's nostalgic," Payton said. "It brings you back in time. The smell reminds me of punishment and reward — if those two things can go together. I've always thought they did."

For Mason, the smell generated a sense of pride.

"We just all have a weird connection through the sport," Mason said. "It's a sport that brings us all together, and we all love each other so much."

And those aren't just words. The family backs it up.

After a match earlier this season against Glenelg, Mason ran back into the gym after his team left for the locker room just to kiss his mother.

"It was either going to be a kiss or to ask for money," Donna said as she smiled.

While Donna and Patrick got divorced in 2011, they share the responsibility of transporting their children to various practices and matches.

"Donna does the lion's share, but I try to be as available as I can," said Patrick, the director of Georgetown University's Center for Personal Development and an adjunct teacher. "I grew up in a family with a father I hadn't seen much of in my life. I didn't want to be that kind of father. And now I look at my family, and they're all really wonderful. They genuinely care for both Donna and me."

The parents attend all the matches, as do grandparents and the other children who are not wrestling.

"There is no better thing than to watch your three younger siblings, who are all pretty good and carrying on the family tradition," said Payton, who routinely sends words of encouragement in text messages to his brothers before matches. "The bar is set higher with each one."

The Kilcarr boys have become more skilled through the years, learning that the sport is as much mental as it is physical, as well as the importance of keeping emotions in check during a match.

"I get nervous for them," said Donna, who was a stay-at-home mother for 22 years before returning to work as a substitute teacher. "Not that they'll get hurt, but it's such an individual sport and the spotlight is directly on them when they're on the mat. They don't like to lose, and it's really hard to see them low."

Mason wants to win a state championship, something a Kilcarr has yet to do. He also wants to be the first family member to wrestle in college.

"They're a pretty awesome family," Reservoir coach Andy McIntyre said. "They're all quality wrestlers. They know what it takes to be a good wrestler. They bring team chemistry. No one is worried about being in each other's shadow, and they're all very similar — very intense and very aggressive — with subtle differences. Troy is methodical, Mason is strongly intense, and Trent splits the difference.

"I'd think it would be pretty crazy dealing with six or seven kids at home wrestling. But they're all great kids."