Tri-Titans writer Pablo DiMaria caught up with CIF state place winner Ryan Spangler (Sultana) to speak about his commitment to Duke and what makes him a strong contender to be a state champion in two-weeks.
A senior, Spangler has twice advanced to the state tournament with last year garnering All-State honors after finishing in sixth place. He is is the leader of the Sultan wrestling team as he is currently ranked No. 5 at 132-pounds by Flo Wrestling California rankings.
Di Maria – When did you begin wrestling?
Spangler – I started wrestling in third grade and immediately fell in love with the sport.
Di Maria – How much work ethic did it take to make you as good a wrestler as you were last year?
Spangler – It took everything. I had to figure out what I wanted; to be on that podium and step up to the next level. I was already a state-qualifier, but I wanted more. Once I found the proper mindset, it was just a matter of staying determined and putting in the extra work whenever I could.
Di Maria – What made you choose to attend Duke?
Spangler – I chose to attend Duke University because it provides me with the opportunity to have the best of both worlds; both academically and athletically. The coaches wowed me with their mantra of building not only better student-athletes but better men.
Di Maria – How much have you improved as a wrestler from your freshman year to this year?
Spangler – As a freshman, I went 1-2 at Masters and had a tough year because I was expected to make it to the state tournament. I didn’t have a proper training schedule and I wasn’t committing myself entirely to the sport. I went from barely even making it into the rankings to being a top-8 guy. Now I’m even better.
Di Maria – What were your expectations going into the season?
Spangler – I had aspirations of earning titles all the tournaments that had escaped me in earlier years and securing a spot on the state podium. I wasn’t sure of myself, but throughout the season and I built up a healthy confidence going into the post-season that paid off immensely.
Di Maria – What were you thinking after placing at the CIF state tournament?
Spangler – After I placed all I could think about was how my hard work had finally paid off. The first thing I did after I placed was point up to the stands at my dad. He’s my biggest supporter and is always there for me whether I win or lose.
Di Maria – Where do you think your strength lies as a wrestler?
Spangler – I think my biggest strength lies in my technique and my aggressiveness. If someone steps out for six minutes with me, it’s going to be hell.
Di Maria – What’s the next step for you?
Spangler – The next step for me is showing out this post-season and working towards success at the next level.
Di Maria – Favorite activity outside of wrestling?
Spangler – Hanging out with my friends and going to the beach.
Di Maria – Favorite off-season food?
Spangler – California Burrito