Kapaun Mount Carmel’s wrestlers have bought into a team effort this season that has them ranked fourth in Class 5A by the coaches association.
“We’ve got some good individuals, but they are making some sacrifices for the better of the team,” Kapaun coach Tim Dryden said. “We recognize that people recognize our program and we appreciate that. It puts a bull’s-eye on your back, but it makes you want to come out and perform.”
A lot of that will to improve the team comes from Kapaun’s 12 seniors, who have experienced shortcomings in the past leading to high expectations for this season — aiming for a league title and improvement on last year’s 10th-place state finish.
“They’ve seen us come up a little short, whether it’s a league title or at the state tournament, so they set higher goals,” Dryden said. “The seniors have been instrumental on putting that goal up for everyone.”
Senior Andrew Egan cut weight to wrestle at 106 instead of 113 to allow a freshman to wrestle 113.
“Andrew is willing to cut a little weight for the good of the team, and we appreciate that,” Dryden said.
Kapaun is off to a solid start, taking first at the Raytown (Mo.) South tournament, defeating Heights 64-10 in its first dual, and coming up four points short in a dual with Bishop Carroll. The Crusaders had seven wrestlers in the final round of the Raytown South tournament, with two winning their weight classes.
“Our main goal is to do well at the state tournament at the end of the season. We want to be one of those teams hoisting up a trophy,” Dryden said. “If guys keep doing what we ask of them, then we think we have a shot to be in the mix at the end of the season.”
“He’s bigger, so you thought that might be a concern because he wrestled 126 last year and had to cut weight to wrestle 152 this year, so sometimes you worry about the strength; for the size that they’re wrestling at, are they going to be strong enough,” Maize coach Mike Schauer said.
Moon is 13-2 with losses to two state champions from Oklahoma. But Maize’s schedule will definitely give Moon a tough remainder of the season. The Eagles dual third-ranked Goddard on Thursday and host a tournament Saturday, with the Garden City tournament coming up later in the season. Moon will need to wrestle well in the Newton Tournament of Champions, where he finished in second place last year.
“He’s ranked No. 1 in 152 in 6A, so there aren’t a lot of kids out there in Kansas that will beat him, but anybody can beat anybody at any time,” Schauer said. “He’s got to make sure he doesn’t relax.”
Moon is one of a strong sophomore group that includes Alex Hydock at 145. Cole Moses at 132 returned this year after a shoulder injury that kept him off the mat last season. Senior Jacob Wilgers is ranked fifth at 126, and after taking last season off, Kane Crider looks to have a good chance to place at state in either 106 or 113, according to Schauer. Senior Fernando Nuno is ranked sixth in 6A at 138.
“We’ve got some bright spots in there that I think will do well, and hopefully surprise some people,” Schauer said.