Varsity Kansas

Newcomers add depth for Kapaun wrestling

Kapaun Mount Carmel wrestling coach Tim Dryden feels like it's about time.

After being the preeminent program in not only the City League, but the state during the 1970s and '80s, the Crusaders haven't won a state championship in 24 years and a league championship in 19 years.

During its dry spell, Kapaun has dealt with South's run in the 1990s and Bishop Carroll's dominance throughout the 2000s. The Crusaders were usually in the mix in the top half of the city and in the top 15 or so at state, but never had enough depth to contend.

All that appears to be changing this season, as an influx of transfers and a deep freshman class join an already talented roster to make Kapaun a legitimate team in Class 5A.

"This is the first time we've had transfers in my 13 years that I feel like can make an immediate impact," Dryden said. "I have seen other schools get transfers and reap the benefits. I'm just excited about the opportunity this gives us."

All four of the Crusaders' transfers qualified for a state tournament last season, two of whom placed in the top four.

Dylan Penka, who wrestled for Carroll last season, placed fourth at 5A at 152 and went 32-5. He is a three-time state qualifier.

Blake Bean, who moved from Stillwater, Okla., was runnerup at 215 in Oklahoma. Bean's eligibility has not yet been finalized, but Dryden hopes to have him by second semester.

Tyler Dulaney (16-10, state qualifier at 145 for Carroll) and Luke Bean (Blake's brother who was an Oklahoma state qualifier at 189) round out the newcomers.

"The returning players are making us feel at home and getting us settled in," Penka said. "The transfers now know what Kapaun wrestling has been about and we think we have what it takes to win another title for the school. We are really psyched for the season."

Despite the talented group of transfers, the Crusaders' anchors will be their returning wrestlers.

Tyler Dryden, Tim's son, went 44-4 last season on his way to placing third at 119. Lukas Maki also qualified for state and went 39-6.

Also back after a year off from injury is Drew McDonough, who lettered as a sophomore.

Now with six potential state contenders, and seven if Blake Bean is deemed eligible, it gives Kapaun the type of team that usually fares well at the end of February.

"We have had some great individuals, but this feels like the deepest team we have had in my 13 years," Tim Dryden said. "When I add all the pieces together, I definitely like our chances."

Kapaun has had some great champions like Doug Hoover and Jacob Klein, both of whom went on to wrestle Division I, but there weren't any other championship caliber wrestlers to go with them.

While there might not be a wrestler of Hoover or Klein's caliber, there certainly are more state placers.

"We've never quite had the great team, to go along with great individuals," Tyler said. "It's never been quite good enough. But now we have multiple kids that can win state titles, which is what it's going to take."

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