Braydon Hoover can’t sweat, can’t develop teeth and can’t grow hair like most kids can.
But he isn’t one for “can’t.”
Hoover’s symptoms have been diagnosed as ectodermal dysplasia, a group of genetic disorders.
If Hoover’s body temperature rises too high, he can have seizures — it happened when he was 4. Playing outdoor sports is not advised. Playing sports in general is not advised.
Hoover still wrestles.
A junior at Northwest, Hoover competed at the City League wrestling meet Saturday. He was there joking with friends from across Wichita — just one of the guys.
When Hoover was young, his mom took strong precautions to protect her son. Walking through the summer heat, Hoover often had cold towels covering his head to keep his body temperature down.
Hoover knows his limits. He knows how far he can push himself, and a lot of that has come through wrestling.
He wanted to start wrestling in third grade, but he was held out until he was a sixth-grader. His mom was understandably concerned.
As a middle-schooler in the Goddard district, he didn’t work out, and his wrestling and social life suffered because of it. Hoover said he was bullied because of his disorder, and it took a toll on him.
Then tragedy hit.
Hoover’s dad, Mike Thompson, died of a self-inflicted injury.
“I started giving up on stuff,” Hoover said. “Then I just started learning that was something to learn from. You’re supposed to gain something from losses.”
Hoover started lifting weights. He transferred to West and started training with his uncle, Pioneers baseball coach Jeff Hoover, and his team.
He poured cold water over his shirt before he started working out. When he felt warm, he put the shirt under the faucet again.
He struggled at times. Dealing with the heat and strain was tiresome and dangerous enough, but the impact of his dad’s death made life harder.
He kept working. He got bigger and better on the mat. He started winning more and making friends.
Every day was spent with the West baseball team. They accepted him. They saw how hard he worked and how much he was going through to compete.
Now Hoover is built like an athlete. His arms are just as muscular as other kids’. He lifts weights at the same level as his teammates.
But there were challenges as his own weight started adding up. Because Hoover can’t sweat, he couldn’t go into the sauna to cut weight the way most wrestlers do before meets.
He doesn’t cut weight. He maintains it. He is particular with what he eats and is sure to not work out excessively.
He won matches as a freshman and sophomore, but fell a few victories short of qualifying for the state meet the past two seasons.
Then he met Eric Prichard.
Hoover and his mom moved down the street from Northwest. He became a Grizzly and started training with Prichard, the Northwest coach.
Coming into Saturday’s City League meet, Hoover was 18-7 at Northwest. He earned the third seed in the 152-pound class.
After a bye in the first round, Hoover beat North’s Jacob Alcantar with a 9-0 major decision in the semifinals. Carroll’s Kyler McGlachlin pinned Hoover in the final Saturday night. Hoover said he understands that few expected him to reach the final.
“I think it’s good for me because people underestimate me,” he said. “They don’t think I’m gonna be a really good wrestler, and then when I go out and beat them, they’re surprised.
“And that’s how I’ve made a lot of friends, is beating people.”
For Hoover, there is more to reaching the City League final than there is for a lot of the others. His story is written in struggle.
Prichard said Hoover is one of the toughest kids he has ever coached. There is a lot to learn from a kid who has been through as much as he has, Prichard said.
Hoover said Saturday is special. And he’s sure his father is with him.
“I know he’s watching me,” he said. “I know he’s gonna like it when I get to the finals, when I get to state. When I wrestle, I know he’s there.”
Teams: South 192.5, Carroll 186, Kapaun 162.5, West 104, Heights 96.5, Northwest 85, North 51, Southeast 39.5, East 25.
106: 1st, Johnson, West, pinned Steiner, Kapaun, 5:03. Semis: Steiner, dec. Trenkamp, South, 4-0. Johnson pinned Rizo, NW, 3:20.
113: 1st, Phipps, Kapaun, dec. Sanchez, South, 4-3. Semis: Phipps pinned Powell, North, 3:55. Sanchez pinned Terrell, South, :34.
120: 1st, Spangler, Kapaun, pinned White, Heights, 1:50. Semis: Sprangler pinned Aldrich, NW, 1:19. White pinned McKnight, West, 1:06.
126: 1st, Gottschal, Carroll, pinned McMahon, Kapaun, 2:34. Semis: Gottschalk pinned Adams, West, 4:23. McMahon maj. dec. Juczewski, South, 8-0.
132: 1st, Sisco, South, pinned Gann, Carroll, 1:26. Semis: Sisco pinned Farmer, SE, 1:14. Gann dec. Jimenez, Kapaun, 11-7. 138:
1st, Flores, South, tech fall Morrell, Carroll, 15-0, 5:39. Semis: Flores maj. dec. Wells, North, 15-7. Morrell pinned Wagoner, NW, :59.
145: 1st, Karibo, South, dec. Gilkey, Heights, 13-7. Semis: Karibo maj. dec. Trail, Carroll, 6-5. Gilkey dec. Jimenez, Kapaun, 4-1.
152: 1st, McGlachlin, Carroll, pinned Hoover, NW, 3:49. Semis: McGlachlin dec. Miller, South, 3-2. Hoover maj. dec. Alcantar, North, 9-0.
160: 1st, Rushin, West, pinned K. Dugan, Carroll, 1:41. Semis: Dugan dec. Bomgardner, Kapaun, 14-8. Rushin dec. Orange, Heights, 6-4.
170: 1st, Murphy, Carroll, dec. Mills, Kapaun, 4-3. Semis: Mills pinned Jenkins, North, :37. Murphy won by default Black, East.
182: 1st, Bockover, Carroll, pinned Landrum, South, 1:43. Semis: Bockover pinned Webb, West. Landrum pinned Ross, NW, 2:54.
195: 1st, Scott, Heights, dec. Phelps, Kapaun, 3-1. Semis: Scott won by default Birdwell, NW. Phelps dec. DeShazer, West, 3-1.
220: 1st, Collins, South, dec. Perez, NW, 11-9. Semis: Perez dec. A. Arredondo, Carroll, 12-5. Collins dec. Carter, NW, 4-2.
285: 1st, Arehart, South, dec. Hicks, NW, 5-3. Semis: Arehart, South, pinned G. Arredondo, Carroll, 3:50. Hicks, maj. dec. Lowe, Kapaun, 16-4.