Druzzla Johnson had just become a first-time state champion, defeating the wrestler who gave her only two losses—making the state finals each time—of her high school career.
But if you were expecting some sort of emotional celebration on Thursday afternoon at Park City’s Hartman Arena, look elsewhere. For junior Wichita West, she was expected to become a Kansas Women’s Wrestling State Champion.
“You don’t celebrate by putting your pants on in the morning, do you?” Johnson said when asked about his professional reaction. “It was a good game against a great opponent, but in the end it was what I had to do. I’m not celebrating something I should have done a long time ago.”
Johnson has long been one of the top female wrestlers in the state, but she just so happened to be in the same weight class as Olathe West’s Makayla Rivera, who is considered by some to be the best pound-for-pound female wrestler in Kansas. The two have met in the state finals for the past two years with Rivera winning both times.
When the trilogy was finalized Wednesday, Johnson said he didn’t treat the third showdown any differently.
“I don’t watch movies about other people a lot, I think more about what I’ve done wrong (in matches),” Johnson said. “What can I fix with me? I can’t control what other people do.”
Rivera was a buzzsaw on day one of the state tournament, pinning three consecutive opponents in a total of 80 seconds to reach the finals. She had been dominant by grabbing opponent’s heads and quickly maneuvering around them for the pin.
But in the final, Johnson successfully blocked Rivera’s attempts. Lui hit an early first period takedown for a 2-0 lead, then nearly sealed the game late in the second period when Johnson hit a reversal and a near-fall in the final 11 seconds to open up a 7 lead. -0.
“Dru fought very well. She kept it tight, but loose at the same time,” West coach Jason Gamble said. “(Rivera) dropped her a couple of openings and she capitalized on it. her because she beat us twice. Two state championships in a row, but this time we finally did it.”
Johnson finished with an eye-opening 9-1 decision for Rivera, who was the No. 1 wrestler. 2 ranked pound for pound at Kansas. He said he allowed the winning moves to develop naturally.
“Of course I have moves that I like to make, my bread and butter, but I don’t like to look for moves, I look for opportunities,” Johnson said. “I just took advantage of the opportunities I had to get to the top.”
After undefeated seasons came to a devastating end in the last game of the season for the past two years, Johnson was finally able to cap off a perfect season with a 24-0 record as a junior.
Johnson said she’s proud of the way she’s battled injuries this season, which included separating both shoulders and a nagging knee injury.
“I wouldn’t call it overcoming because wrestling is like a job to me,” Johnson said. “I enjoy it, but that’s just what I have to do. There was never a moment that I thought maybe this was the end. I just had to make it.
Derby senior Amara Esha won her second straight Class 6-5A state championship on Thursday.
Derby’s Amara Esha wins second state title
It took less than seven minutes on the mat for Derby junior Amara Esha to win her second straight Class 6-5A state championship.
Esha recorded four straight pins to win the 105 lb division, culminating with a first period pin by Dodge City’s Jessica Rivera in the Finals.
After winning the title at 101 last season, Esha moved up one weight class to win her second title with a 30-2 record.
Derby also had another state medal in junior Trinity Williams, who finished fourth in the 190 division to finish a 24-5 season.
North had four individual medals in junior Jaycee Tyler (third at 140), senior Diana Urista (fourth at 130), sophomore Xitlaly Meraz (fourth at 115), and senior Larissa Garcia (fifth at 110), while southeast junior Alivia Wilson placed (sixth at 110). Kapaun placed junior Jayla Johnson (second on 140) and freshman Taylor Barringer (fifth on 105) and Bishop Carrol she had two medals in junior Karla Martinez (third at 190) and sophomore Alexis Means (sixth at 130).
Other Wichita area state medals included Center Valley seniors Grace Timmons (second at 170) and Gracie Orr (sixth at 235), Newtons senior Jaymie Murry (second at 155) and senior Emily Torres (fifth at 120), Hutchinson senior Anna Cullens (second to 110), Goddard Eisenhower senior Lainie Burkhart (third at 115) e Furthermore second Olivia Randle (fourth at 140).
Mulvane senior Kammie Schanz capped off a perfect senior season with a deadly overtime victory to win the second state championship of her career.
Three Wichita area wrestlers capture the state championship undefeated in 4-1A
In her last game of high school, Mulvane senior Kammie Schanz had the pressure of a perfect season and second state championship at stake when her match in the 145-pound finals with Goodland’s Destiny Gonzalez went to sudden death.
Schanz was up for the challenge, scoring the game-winning takedown with under 10 seconds remaining in the first overtime period to claim the second Class 4-1A state title of her career at Tony’s Pizza Event Center in Salina.
In a dramatic championship game, Gonzalez took a 2–1 lead in the third period when he scored a late upset. But Schanz got the lead back with her own flip early in the third period, only for Gonzalez to finally break free with 10 seconds left to force overtime.
During overtime, Gonzalez tried to pass to gain the advantage, but Schanz fended off her attack and was able to drag her opponent to the mat and fall on top of her to score the game-winning takedown in dramatic fashion.
Schanz, who finished No. 2 all-class in her division, finished her senior season with an unblemished 41–0 record. She finished her career as a 4-time state medalist, including three state finals appearances with the 2021 state title in the 138 division.
Buhler senior Emilie Schweizer was also an undefeated state champion, capping off a perfect 32-0 season with a dominant performance in the 190 Finals to win the second state championship of her career.
After losing in the semifinals last year at State, Schweizer delivered a dominant performance in his senior dismissal, pinning four straight opponents, including a third-period pin on Wellington’s junior Aubrey Hunt in the Finals. He also won the 235 title as a sophomore in 2021.
Another undefeated state champion was Winfield junior Sheena Gocela, who needed just over six minutes down to pin three consecutive opponents to complete a perfect 33-0 season and win the state championship at 100. Gocela nearly scored a pinfall in the first period of the Finals against Columbus junior Grace Noel, but ended the game with less than 35 seconds into the second period.
Other Wichita area state medalists from the 4-1A tournament were Wellington young Aubrey Hunt (second to 190), Augsburg junior Jill High (second to 125), Buhler freshman Kimber Crabbs (second to 105), Mulvane second Leiannah Landreth (third at 115), El Dorado junior Trinity Motter (third in 100), bluestem sophomore Payton Burton (third at 105), McPherson second Ciara Rawson (fifth at 235), Douglas senior Tye Rozell (fifth at 115), Winfield senior Hannah Selle (fifth at 105), Pink Hill senior Payton Sholander (sixth at 190) and junior Ryleigh Page (sixth at 110) and Circle senior Katelyn Schmidt (sixth at 140).