DES MOINES — This moment was bigger than just Paul Ryan.
It was a product of two older brothers he followed into the sport, eight total siblings who helped hone a competitive edge and parents who encouraged him from the first practice in elementary school.
The Mount Vernon senior didn’t forget his teammates — especially drill partners Joe Hunter and Andrew Louwagie — and his coaches.
They all played a role in him accomplishing his ultimate goal.
Ryan jumped in and out of Mustangs Coach Vance Light’s arms, yelled and flexed in an emotional celebration after he won the Class 2A 170-pound championship at the state wrestling tournament Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd in Wells Fargo Arena.
“I was just super excited,” said Ryan, who defeated Eddyville EBF’s second-ranked Sage Walker, 4-2, in the final. “All the hard work, ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always dreamed of being a state champion. It all paid off finally.”
Ryan (43-0) can be a man of few words at time. He hasn’t made a habit of outbursts, but he couldn’t hold it in when time expired.
“It was a great feeling,” said Ryan, a standout in football, baseball and track as well. “It just came out of me in my reaction.”
Ryan continually improved each season after missing out on the state tournament as a freshman. He placed eighth at 145 as a sophomore and then moved up to 170 at the end of last season to finish fourth.
Ryan opened this tournament with a pin and then won three hard-fought bouts to claim the Mustangs' 17th state title, joining his older brother, Trey, who won the 170-pound crown in 2014.
The match was scoreless through the first with Ryan getting a second-period escape. A takedown was the boost Ryan needed to close it. He said he transfers lessons he learned, trying to outdo his siblings, including older sister and Drake softball player, Libby Ryan.
“It just helped me keep going and going,” Ryan said. “Your opportunity will come up and it came up and I took advantage of it.”
Sims dominates to title
Iowa Valley senior Garet Sims produced one of the more dominant performances at state. The Tigers’ three-time state medalist and two-time finalist manhandled Alta-Aurelia’s Nick Gaes, 13-4, for the Class 1A 220-pound title in a battle of unbeatens.
Sims (52-0) racked up four takedowns, including two in the second period, and added one with three nearfall in the third to secure the major decision. He rolled through the bracket, recording three pins in a total of 2:50 en route to the finals.
Sims, a 2018 runner-up at 182, is the ninth state champion in Iowa Valley history and the first since Logan Loftus claimed the 132-pound title in 2013. He also became the Tigers’ all-time wins leader this season, tallying a 204-19 career mark and surpassing Jacob Krakow, who was 197-24 from 2014-17.
Iowa, ISU, UNI coaches honored
The Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association honored Iowa Coach Tom Brands, Iowa State Coach Kevin Dresser and Northern Iowa Coach Doug Schwab with the annual President’s Award.
IWCOA President and Independence Coach Michael Doyle selected the three for their impact as the state’s NCAA Division-I head coaches and as competitors in high school and college.
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Brands was a state champion for Sheldon and a three-time NCAA titlist for the Hawkeyes. Dresser was a two-time state champion for Humboldt and a national champ at Iowa. Schwab won titles at Osage and Iowa. All three are members of the IHSAA Wrestling Hall of Fame.
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