Michael Spangler’s freshman wrestling season at Kapaun Mount Carmel was far from smooth. He not only had to adjust to the different expectations of high school, but also the pressure that comes with being related to coach Tim Dryden, his uncle, and assistant coach Louis Spangler, his father.
Throw in the fact that Spangler was 90 pounds — 16 less than the weight he wrestled — and he was frustrated.
“They could use their size,” said Spangler, now a sophomore. “It was hard for me. I had to have precise technique in everything I did.
“… I was unsure going into that first tournament (this season) and then as soon as I beat a couple kids, that’s helped me a lot this year.”
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Spangler not only increased his weight — he’s at 106 — but his confidence, too. Saturday, Spangler (35-4) won his first Class 5A regional championship by beating Arkansas City freshman Gabe Buckbee 8-5.
Goddard won the team title with 228 points, 70.5 points more than Arkansas City, which was second. Goddard, the defending 5A team champion, had eight individual champions and 13 advanced to the 5A state tournament at Hartman Arena on Feb. 26-27.
The top four wrestlers at each weight advance.
Spangler’s teammate, sophomore Adam Ayala (29-2), won his second regional title, pinning Goddard senior Christian Bowen at 126 pounds.
“I was just scrambling, I got in another scramble and I just flipped over and put him to his back,” Ayala said.
Spangler and Ayala both lost to their final opponents previously.
Dryden was pleased to see the adjustments Spangler has made.
“We did have to change it up last year because he was so little and there were things he just couldn’t do because physically he just got outhorsed,” Dryden said. “But (we told him), ‘you’re not the little guy anymore, and you can go and compete with all these guys.’ ”
Once Spangler understood that, he was fine.
“I needed to get over the hump, that I can wrestle with these kids no matter what size I’m at,” he said.
Goddard cruises — Goddard’s dominance was phenomenal considering that of the 28 finalists, 23 were ranked in the top five of the coaches association rankings and 21 were in the top three.
“I’d never say it’s not cool to take first place,” Goddard coach Brett Means said. “But nobody is going to remember who wins regionals.… It’s all about getting into the (state) bracket. You can’t be a state champion if you’re not in the bracket.”
Goddard had nine in the finals and got regional titles from junior Will Spexarth (120 pounds), sophomore Garrett Lange (138), junior Kameron Frame (145), junior Kendall Frame (152), freshman Troy Fisher (160), sophomore Austin Andres (170), junior Cale Davidson (182) and senior Corey Atkins (220).
The Frame twins both won 5A titles last season.
“I’ve been grinding the whole season,” said Andres, who finished second at regionals in 2015. “It just feels really great to finally get my achievement.”
Atkins also finished second in regionals last season.
“It really ate at me,” he said. “… It’s the only thing I can remember. It’s been just digging and digging at me that I didn’t get (the title).”
Stuart’s thrilling match — Andover junior Paul Stuart won his third regional title, but it took a thrilling ending to beat Ark City sophomore Jake Beeson.
“Our styles match up really good,” said Stuart, who split with Beeson in the regular season. “It makes for a fun match every time.”
Stuart trailed Beeson in the final minute, but got a reversal for the win.
“When you’re a champion, you learn that no matter how much time’s on the clock, the match is never over. It’s about digging deep and that 26 seconds is enough to score,” said Stuart, who won the 5A title at 120 as a sophomore.
“… I wanted to throw my hands up and run around the mat a few times.”
First-time champs — Bishop Carroll’s Robert Garcia got beat out by a teammate his freshman season and didn’t compete in the postseason, then he missed the last part of his sophomore season due to a shoulder injury.
But he beat Liberal’s Victor Monarrez 6-1 Saturday to win his first regional title.
“It’s a great feeling to come out and be the best in my regional,” Garcia said.
While Ark City advanced 10 to the 5A tournament, junior Tyler Shannon (285) and sophomore Marcus Robinson (113)were the only Bulldogs with individual titles.
Robinson won the 5A title at 106 last season, but Shannon won his first regional championship by beating Maize South’s Nick Glenn 3-1.
“It feels pretty good getting to have a good seed at state,” Shannon said.
Team — 1. Goddard 228, 2. Arkansas City 157.5, 3. Kapaun 112, 4. Carroll 104, 5. Andover 91.5, 6. Maize South 75, 7. Liberal 74, 8. Eisenhower 27
106 — 1. Spangler, Kapaun, dec. Buckbee, Ark City, 8-5; 3. Doud, Eisenhower, pinned Gooch, Carroll, 2:11.
113 — 1. Ma. Robinson, Ark City, dec. West, Maize South, 7-1; 3. Pirl, Goddard, pinned Guyer, Andover, 2:35.
120 — 1. Spexarth, Goddard, dec. Mo. Robinson, Ark City, 2-1 OT; 3. O’Donnell, Kapaun, pinned Drake, Andover, 2:39.
126 — 1. Ayala, Kapaun, pinned Bowen, Goddard, 4:21; 3. Bossingham, Andover, dec. Gericke, Carroll, tech fall 4:05.
132 — 1. Stuart, Andover, dec. Beeson, Ark City, 5-4 ; 3. Kasitz, Maize South, dec. Glover, Goddard, 2-1.
138 — 1. Lange, Goddard, dec. Nuckles, Ark City, 9-5; 3. Towry, Andover, dec. Murphy, Carroll, 2-1.
145 — 1. Ka. Frame, Goddard, dec. Maki, Andover, 5-3; 3. McClurg, Liberal, dec. Dugan, Carroll.
152 — 1. Ke. Frame, Goddard, pinned Moore, Maize South, 3:12; 3. Murphy, Carroll, dec. Waters, Ark City, 5-2
160 — 1. Fisher, Goddard, dec. Biddle, Ark City, 3-2; 3. Carrillo, Carroll, dec. Ellingson, Eisenhower.
170 — 1. Andres, Goddard, dec. Mills,, Kapaun, 10-4; 3. Kuhn, Maize South, dec. Bockover, Carroll, 11-5.
182 — 1. Davidson, Goddard, dec. Nece, Kapaun, 5-1; 3. Boman, Liberal, dec. Combs, Ark City, 2-1.
195 — 1. Garcia, Carroll, dec. Monarrez, Liberal, 6-1; 3. Driskill, Goddard, pinned Schillings, Andover, 2:17.
220 — 1. Atkins, Goddard, dec. Emery, Liberal, 5-1; 3. Dent, Ark City, dec. Phelps, Kapaun, 3-2.
285 — 1. Shannon, Ark City, dec. Glenn, Maize South, 3-1; 3. Trejo, Liberal, pinend Hallacy, Carroll, 2:44.