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THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION

Kinyon makes first trip to state tournament

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 10:26 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 11:45 a.m. CDT
Caption
(CNA photo by SCOTT VICKER)
East Union's Bryson Kinyon lets out a scream after pinning Austin Laabs of Guthrie Center on Saturday to earn his first trip to the state wrestling tournament.
Caption
(CNA photo by SCOTT VICKER)
East Union senior Bryson Kinyon (right) earns nearfall points on East Mills junior Colby Jennings during their opening round match at the Class 1A District 7 wrestling tournament in Corning on Saturday. With the three nearfall points, Kinyon polished off a 17-0 tech fall over Jennings.

“Let’s go Bryson! Let’s go Bryson! Let’s go Bryson!”

The chant boomed throughout the Corning Activities Center gymnasium Saturday at the Class 1A District 7 wrestling tournament.

But, to fully understand why the crowd that included fans from 17 different schools backed East Union senior 170-pounder Bryson Kinyon so strongly, we must first take a step back and revisit last year’s Class 1A district wrestling tournament.

Heartbreak

Kinyon defeated the top-seeded wrestler at 152 pounds in the opening round of the 2012 Class 1A district wrestling tournament, but in the process, broke his thumb.

“I thought, ‘man, my thumb hurts,’” Kinyon said. “After the match, I got off and my thumb was about twice the size it was supposed to be. I lost the championship match 2-1, and saw there was a wrestleback, but just didn’t have any fight left in me.”

The injury left Kinyon, who has dreamed of making the state wrestling tournament since he was a child, heartbroken.

“It was horrible,” he said. “Worst feeling in the world.”

The injury, and seeing a berth in the state tournament slip away, drove Kinyon to become even better this year.

Kinyon enters the state tournament with a record of 44-1 this season, with his only loss coming to Class 2A fifth-rated 160-pounder Trevor Frain of Creston/Orient-Macksburg.

He also broke the East Union single-season pins record, previously set in 1996-97 by Thomas Bradley, who had 29 pins. Kinyon enters the state tournament with 34 pins this season.

“I think, really, a lot of it has been from that moment,” Kinyon said. “I worked all summer on the roof (summer job) and built up some endurance. I don’t wear down as fast as I used to. It’s just been in the back of my mind all year. I want to make it to state so bad. This year, I’ve been hungry for it.”

•••

“Let’s go Bryson! Let’s go Bryson! Let’s go Bryson!”

Bounce back to Saturday’s meet in Corning, as Kinyon wrestled Guthrie Center’s Austin Laabs for the fourth time in four weeks with the District 7 championship on the line.

As other wrestlers competed in their matches, cheerleaders from their teams sat matside, pounding out beats on the mat and cheering every step of the way throughout their matches.

But when it came time for Kinyon’s match, there were no cheerleaders since East Union does not have a cheerleading program.

As Kinyon took to the mat for the championship match, something strange happened.

Suddenly, cheerleaders from Nodaway Valley, Corning, West Central Valley and Martensdale-St. Marys swarmed the edge of the mat, sat down, and began cheering in an ultimate sign of respect.

“Let’s go Bryson! Let’s go Bryson! Let’s go Bryson!”

Before he knew it, the entire crowd, except for the Guthrie Center section, chimed in as well.

“The first time I saw the cheerleaders, I saw Corning and Nodaway Valley,” Kinyon said. “I thought, ‘what are they doing here? Their kid isn’t wrestling.’ They started cheering and my name came up. They were cheering for me.”

When Kinyon pinned Laabs in 4:34, the crowd popped with excitement as Kinyon pointed to the East Union section in the stands.

As he walked off the mat, he was nearly mobbed by people wanting to congratulate him on the victory.

“I was really happy. I’ve been waiting for that moment since I was real little,” Kinyon said. “I was happy so many people showed up from our school to experience it with me. It was just lots of emotion.”

Kinyon said he believes he’s received so much support simply because he is kind to everyone, isn’t cocky and will shake anyone’s hand who wants to shake his.

“I just think I’m very well-respected for trying not to be cocky and going out and talking to people,” Kinyon said. “I have so many people now that I recognize their face, but don’t have a name for them, just coming up and shaking my hand and saying congrats.”

State tournament

Kinyon’s father, Steve, who is the head wrestling coach for East Union, said it was an exciting moment when Kinyon won the district championship, qualifying for the state tournament.

“I was excited for him, because he deserves it. He’s worked hard for a long time,” Steve said. “I was excited for our crowd to be there. I was excited for him, as a coach and as a dad. You’re proud as heck as a dad, and, as a coach, you’re glad that he got through.”

Even though he’s making his first appearance in the state tournament, Kinyon feels confident going into it.

“One match at a time, but I’d love to win it,” he said. “I think I got a really good draw. I think I have the less stacked side of the two sides of the bracket. Hopefully, I can come out on top and make it to the championship match and wrestle Saturday night.”

But one thing’s for sure — neither Kinyon nor his father will forget the amount of support he’s received in his journey to the state tournament.

“We’re thankful for the people who have supported him,” Steve said. “We just appreciate their support. We appreciate our fans, and we appreciate the support of all the surrounding communities.”

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