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DES MOINES -- It was a surreal moment for West Sioux’s Kory Van Oort and Spirit Lake Park’s Kyler Rieck.

There they were, the two mats right next to each other. One of them wrestling for the 152-pound Class 1A state title (Van Oort) and the other wrestling for 152 2A title.

It wasn’t just because both of them were going for a state title, it’s because both of them are basically like brothers.

The two have trained together for years and now they were both about to finish up their senior seasons by wrestling for a state title right next to each other on the biggest stage at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Saturday.

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2019 State Wrestling Saturday
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2019 State Wrestling Saturday
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2019 State Wrestling Saturday
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2019 State Wrestling Saturday
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2019 State Wrestling Saturday

Rieck’s moment came first. He defeated Union’s Adam Ahrendsen by a 16-8 major decision for the state title. As Rieck ran back into the tunnel and celebrated, Van Oort was up 3-0 on North Linn’s Brady Henderson in his match.

Then with media surrounding him, Rieck saw his best friend running into the tunnel. Van Oort defeated Henderson 3-0 for the title.

Rieck stopped his interviews and the ran straight to Van Oort for a big hug as the two best friends who have spared against each other for years each celebrated a state title.

“That’s my best friend right there and he happens to be dating my sister,” Rieck said with a laugh. “When we were little, we wrestled together and were competitors. We’ve started training together at (Legends of Gold). I am really happy for him.”

Van Oort loved seeing Rieck on the other mat right before the two wrestled for a title.

“We’ve been dreaming of that since, I can’t even put an age on it. We never seem to put together a good state tournament in the same year,” Van Oort said. “This year we both got it done. I don’t even know how to put it. That was freakin’ awesome.”

After each match at the state tournament this week, Rieck kept emphasizing that he just needed to take it one match at a time.

He didn’t look past his first round or quarterfinal opponents for a potential rematch with Easton Graff in the semifinals. He was focused on each individual match he had at the time.

Now there’s no one else in front of him after he won the state title.

“No more matches left. I took it one match at a time and listened to my coaches. They prepared me. This feels good,” Rieck said. “Definitely (worth it). You compare it to life. You get knocked down, you get back up and that’s what my parents and coaches have taught me. To finally be on the top side of things, it feels good.”

Rieck’s win not only earned him an individual title, but it also moved Spirit Lake Park into second place in the 2A team race, which is where the Indians ended the tournament.

“That would mean so much to me. My team means so much to me. We are so close and we feed off each other. We work hard together,” Rieck said. “To be rewarded for our labor, that would be awesome. I love my teammates.”

It was the second time in the state title match for Van Oort. After missing out on placing as a freshman, Van Oort used that as motivation and as a sophomore, he made a run all the way to the state title match before losing to Wapsie Valley’s Kaleb Krall.

Van Oort put his runner-up medal in a very specific place to motivate him going forward.

“I have had that second place medal in my bag every day since then. It hasn’t left,” Van Oort said. “Every time I open my bag, that’s what I see. That second place medal. Nothing more motivating than that.”

At the end of last season, Van Oort dealt with a bout of mononucleosis. He was still able to qualify for the state tournament and finished in fifth place.

This season he knew he could make it back to the title match and not only did he return to the center stage on Saturday night, he claimed the title that has been on his mind since his sophomore season.

“I made it my mission to get that gold medal and that’s what we did,” Van Oort said. “I don’t know how to put it into words, that was incredible. I’ve never felt more confident going into a match than that one. I was loose, calm, relaxed. We put together a good gameplan on how to attack him and executed it perfectly and came home with the W.”

Van Oort’s match was scoreless going into the second period when he earned an escape and then got a takedown for the 3-0 lead.

Henderson never found a way to crack Van Oort’s defense.

“It’s kinda been my style. Try not to force any bad shots and capitalize on the good ones I take and it paid off,” Van Oort said.

Van Oort may not have won his state championship if it wasn’t for a loss about a month ago at a tournament in Parkston, South Dakota. Van Oort lost in the tournament title match.

The Morningside recruit hasn’t lost since.

“I needed to stay in better position and force less bad shots and keep better positioning,” Van Oort said. “That loss pushed me to get to where I am now. Positioning won me that match.”

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