Having successfully clinched the duals portion of City League play, Kapaun Mount Carmel will try to wrap up the championship in Saturday’s league tournament at North.
The Crusaders, 10th in the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association Class 5A team rankings, took a 7-0 duals record into Wednesday night’s finale against East and will be top-seeded in the league tournament. Kapaun knocked Northwest from the unbeaten ranks in a double-dual last Thursday.
And, the Crusaders have accomplished this without the services of junior Adam Ayala at 138. Coach Tim Dryden said he’s hopeful of getting Ayala back before regionals. Ayala suffered a spinal contusion in the first dual of the year after posting a 33-2 record last year as a 132-pounder, including a Class 5A state title.
“Different guys have stepped up with one of our main guys out of the lineup,” Dryden said. “to lose a guy like that, and yet we’ve still been able to stay undefeated (in duals).”
Leading the way is Michael Spangler, a defending 5A champion at 106 who is top-ranked at that weight this season among all classes. Spangler has continued his progression, Dryden said, starting as a 90-pounder as a freshman.
“Even at state (last year), he was still small at 102 or 103,” Dryden said.
He compiled a 39-4 mark in winning the 5A 106 title. Dryden said he has been wrestling Spangler at 106 or 113 this season, and Spangler’s only loss was to Dallas Wilson of South, at 120.
Dryden said Spangler will do whatever he can for the team to succeed.
“He’s my nephew, so he doesn’t have much choice,” Dryden joked. “But he’s got to be on his ‘A’ game.”
That junior core includes Travis Phelps at 195, who is currently ranked fifth in 5A. He moved down from 220, where he went 23-19 last season. Also in the rankings for the Crusaders is senior Braden O’Donnell, who is fifth at 132 after going 30-10 last season as a 120-pounder.
Derby stays strong – A runner-up finish to Valley Center in last weekend’s Rose Hill Invitational will benefit Derby in the long run, coach Bill Ross said.
“There’s more than one way to be a champion,” Ross said. “You can be an individual champion, and you can also be a team champion.
“Tournaments are won on the second day, so we were down by 52 points after the first day, then we end up about 20 points short. But if we can wrestle like that on the back side at regionals and state, good things will happen.”
The Panthers, who finished fourth in Class 6A last season, have rebuilt with a largely underclass core.
Junior Brandon Becker and sophomore Cade Lindsey led the way with championships at Rose Hill. Becker, fourth last year at state with a 32-16 record at 126, captured the 132 title and is currently No. 1 in 6A at that weight.
Lindsey, a state champion at 120 as a freshman with a 33-10 record, has moved up to 138 this season and won that class at Rose Hill, giving him a 32-4 mark and a No. 2 ranking in 6A.
Sophomore Kobe Grijalva took third at Rose Hill at 113 and has a 27-8 mark for No. 4 in 6A.
Senior Nate Fowler got third at Rose Hill at 285 and is 22-10, No. 4 among heavyweights in 6A.