When you’ve wrestled together as much as Campus junior Boo Dryden and Kapaun Mount Carmel sophomore Michael Spangler, you begin to believe your fates are intertwined.
Before they wrestled on Saturday at Hartman Arena in their championship matches, the cousins mentioned how cool it would be if they both won state titles.
So when Spangler held up his end, winning the 106-pound title in Class 5A, Dryden vowed to not let anything stop him from joining his cousin atop the podium. Minutes later, Dryden put the finishing touches on a 6-0 victory over Wichita South’s Dallas Wilson to claim the 113-pound championship in Class 6A.
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“The amount of love I have for this guy,” Dryden said, pointing to Spangler, “the amount of dedication and hard work we’ve put into the wrestling room together is crazy. We don’t even go to the same school, but we still work hard together and still accomplish great things together. It’s just cousin love.”
The Dryden and Spangler families had a busy day. Jim Dryden is the coach at Campus; Tim Dryden, his brother, is the coach at Kapaun; and Troy Dryden, is the father of Boo is Jim and Tim’s brother. Throw in that Louis Spangler, Michael’s father and is married to the Dryden’s brother’s sister (and is Tim’s assistant at Kapaun) and the state wrestling tournament was a family reunion of sorts.
It immediately became special when Michael Spangler won his match and then was able to jump into his father’s arms to celebrate.
“I dreamed about it all the time, jumping into his arms after I win,” Michael said. “It was awesome. It was like no other moment in my life.”
“Holding him, just like when he was a little kid when he was born,” Louis said recalling the moment. “It was all the emotions, just right there, spewing out. It was like a volcano.”
Boo Dryden’s emotional moment came just a bit later. After defeating Wilson 6-0, Dryden sprung from the mat and immediately pointed to the Kapaun and Campus cheering sections.
After climbing into the stands, Spangler and Dryden both faced the same problem.
“We couldn’t hardly get to the section with all the family members,” Tim Dryden said. “Everyone hugging and crying, being so excited.”
Troy Dryden saw it unfold from the stands, as he watched his nephew and son deliver the family a moment they won’t soon be forgetting.
“Pandemonium,” Troy said. “It was absolutely crazy up here. A lot of thank yous are being handed out to a lot of people who have helped these two in their success.”
When Boo finally did reach his father, Troy, Boo began to break down in his father’s hug. After missing the state tournament last season, all Boo wanted to do was to make his family proud.
“Fifteen years of wrestling go into this one day, one match just to get this feeling,” Boo said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Controversial ending for Ornelas – The referee waved his arms, headgear went flying in the air, and Northwest’s Noah Ornelas believed he had just won the 195-pound championship.
Moments earlier, in the second overtime period, Shawnee Mission West’s Jose Montoya had made a pass at Ornelas and nearly registered a reversal. The referee initially awarded two points, then waved it off, then ruled Ornelas had kept his position on top and was the champion.
After a challenge, the head official awarded Montoya a “neutral” point and the match went to an ultimate tiebreaker with Montoya in the favorable bottom position. A quick escape gave Montoya the title and left Ornelas in disbelief.
Northwest brothers Devin and Justin Onwugbufor, also lost championship matches. Devin lost on a takedown in overtime against Derby’s Cade Lindsey, while Justin was pinned by Blue Valley’s Tanner Madl in the third period.
Other area finishes – The area produced four finalists in Class 6A, but all came away without a title.
Hutchinson’s Brian Gates couldn’t mount any kind of attack against Olathe East’s Jace Koelzer and lost a 4-0 decision in the 106-pound championship match.
West’s David Kelly took Garden City’s Jesse Nunez into overtime in the 170-pound title match, but Nunez was awarded a takedown on the outer ring with seconds remaining in the first extra period for the win. Kelly, a senior, finished with a 25-5 record.
The brute strength of Blue Valley Northwest’s Blake Johnson was too much for Campus’ Matt Kimber to overcome in the finals at 220 pounds, as Johnson came away with a 97-second pin for the title.