As fate would have it, the Dryden family could celebrate rapid-fire wrestling championships Saturday.
Campus senior Boo Dryden fought off a challenge from South’s Dallas Wilson to win the Class 6A 120-pound championship with a 7-3 decision.
Dryden’s victory came right after a cousin, Michael Spangler of Kapaun Mount Carmel, won the 106-pound division in 5A. The two embraced at the back of Hartman Arena after Dryden’s triumph.
“I couldn’t be any happier,” Boo Dryden said. “My cousin winning that title, and me winning the other title.
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“Happiness all around.”
Dryden and Wilson had met three times this season, and Dryden went 3-0 in those matchups.
Wilson, who upset top-seeded Jace Koelzer of Olathe South in the semifinals, fought back, but the lanky Dryden’s height advantage proved difficult for Wilson.
Dryden’s three second-period points broke a 2-2 tie, and from then on, Wilson – even with the top position – couldn’t move the Campus senior.
Try as he might, Wilson couldn’t break through against Dryden, who held on.
“Using my length in matches really helps me with my moves that I like to set up,” Dryden said. “Takedowns, and turning people on top, which I did pretty good in my finals match.”
He said he went about his strategy methodically throughout the match.
“The first period, I just tried to dictate the pace of the match,” Dryden said. “From then, just keep grinding and find a way to get some points on the board. However you can do it, just get them up there, and at the end of the day, try to win every match that’s right in front of you.”
It was a perfect way to cap the senior’s season, said Campus coach Jim Dryden, uncle to both Boo and Spangler.
“(Boo) wanted to go out with a bang,” Jim Dryden said.
It was the second state title for both Dryden and Spangler. Dryden captured 113 in 6A a year ago, and Spangler won at 106 in 5A. Another Dryden brother, Tim, coaches Kapaun’s team.
“It makes it even more special when both of them can win, and both of us have opportunities to celebrate with each other,” Jim Dryden said. “That makes it that much more special for them.”
He said the Hartman Arena venue, where both 5A and 6A are competing, allows Spanglers and Drydens to centralize their cheering – especially when the two have been so dominant in their classes.
“They kind of feed off each other, especially at this tournament, because they get a chance to watch each other,” Jim Dryden said. “Most of the tournaments we go to, we’re not always together, so this is kind of a unique situation where they get to feed off each other’s wins.”
As a senior, Jim Dryden said Boo will be looking to wrestle beyond high school.
“He’s had a couple of offers, but he’s going to wait and go wrestle at Virginia Beach (Va.) in the senior national tournament, which is a nationwide-type deal,” Jim said. “And then see if any offers come his way from there, then make a decision.”
South coach Brian Westhoff said Boo Dryden seemed to thwart anything Wilson tried.
“We thought we could get up, and didn’t quite do it,” Westhoff said. “He’s tough, he’s long, and he uses that to his advantage.”
The loss doesn’t diminish the year that Wilson has had, Westhoff said.
“He’s had a great year,” Westhoff said. “He’s the hardest-working kid I know. I’m proud of him.”
Dryden said that Wilson was his toughest 6A opponent.
“He’s a great competitor,” Dryden said. “Every time he steps out on the mat, he’s always challenging me, looking for revenge, or whatever. He’s always there to push you. He’ll go somewhere far.”