Brother-sister act proves to be championship worthy

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

Ottawa High School senior Darby Weidl grew up watching her brother wrestle, but did not have the itch to be a grappler as a youngster.

Dalton Weidl spent many weekends at tournaments crafting his technique that would eventually turn him into a high school state champion, the second in Cyclone history. He went on to wrestle for Newman and returned home to teach and coach wrestling.

Ottawa High School senior Darby Weidl displays her state championship medal she won a week ago.

Two years ago, Kansas sanctioned girls wrestling at the high school level. Darby thought it would good to try a different sport, but she needed dad’s approval.

“At first, our dad did not want her to wrestle,” Dalton said. “Once, we got him talked into letting her wrestle, it was a whole lot of fun. You don’t get that opportunity to coach some one you are that close with.”

Darby started from scratch not knowing much about the sport.

Ottawa's Darby Weidl wrestles Oskaloosa's Allison King in the 155 pound weight class championship of the KSHSAA Girls Div II State Wrestling Tournament at the Tony's Pizza Events Center in Salina Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. Weidl defeated King by 13-5 decision.

“I wish I had paid more attention when I was younger so I would have picked up on it quicker,” Darby said. “I grew up around it. It was an opportunity to try something new.”

Darby was a quick learner, but there were bumps along the way.

“Starting at knowing nothing is hard,” Darby said. “Frustrating for sure. Starting from ground zero, working up, it is amazing to see the progress.”

Dalton knew his sister was a good athlete, but was not sure how this wrestling thing would turn out.

“We did not know how good she was going to be,” Dalton said. “She learned fast and she took off.”

Darby was one of the state’s best girl wrestlers out of the gate. She finished as a state runner-up last season.

“Getting second was awesome because it was my first year, but it was not enough,” Darby said. “I came back this year hungry.”

Dalton said the first season was a big foundation year.

“The only thing she lacked last year was experience,” Dalton said. “At first, we covered the basics. This year, she really grew and learned how to be good in every position. Last year, she had some of those weak areas. She had the athleticism. She had the talent. She had both this year. There wasn’t anyone that could keep up with her.”

A Championship Recipe

The brother-sister duo went to work this season bent on improving and attaining what was missing from the first year — a state title.

“We hit every area,” Dalton said. “We prepared for any moment. The thing with wrestling — to be a great wrestler — you have to be great in every position.”

Darby toughened up mentally to push her body further than she thought she could.

“Mentally, I thought I was strong,” Darby said. “I wasn’t when I started. That is where I saw the most growth doing wrestling. I got a lot out of it. Once you think you are done and tired, you really are not. You push through it. Within that first minute, you can be tired, but you have five more and you have to work through it. The practices prepared us for that too.”

Dalton knew which buttons to push to get the attention of his sister.

“At times, I knew to be hard on her and make her learn things,” he said. “She did not get treated differently than anyone else. Sometimes that kind of irritated her. She grew from it.

“She is definitely the mentally toughest person I have ever coached. She is the most coachable person I have ever coached.

Emotional State Tournament

Darby admitted being nervous as the state tourney approached.

But she performed like the state champion she would become a week ago.

“I knew going into state week, the only thing that could beat Darby was herself,” Dalton said. “She turned it on. The first two matches, she dominated. Right before the finals match, I thought here was going to either make or break her mentally. She was so relaxed. She was listening to music and dancing. I knew we had it at that moment.”

Once the state title was secured, all the emotions overtook the Weidls.

“It was amazing,” Darby said. “The [second] I won the match, I looked at my brother and it was everything we worked for. The work paid off.

“It was a little bit of a relief, but it was more excitement. We did it together. That is what made it even more special. I would not have won a state title without him.”

Dalton saw her smile and let his emotions flow.

“A couple of tears came to my eyes,” he said. “I have experienced that before and I know it is one that you will never get again. The fact, she was able to live that moment. I tried to tell her, that is a moment you visualize for years. When it happens it is so surreal. It happens so fast, you have to live in the moment.”

Special Bond

Despite the years between them, the Weidls are close.

“He is my best friend,” Darby said. ‘We have been close. He always helps me when I need help. I would not be where I am without his help.”

Dalton enjoyed watching Darby use wrestling to improve her athletic ability.

“The biggest thing is watching her grow as an athlete through wrestling,” Dalton said. “Seeing how much better she pushed herself. From last year to this year, she was a completely different wrestler. I will never be able to coach a sister again to a state championship. It is a moment you will never forget.”

The Weidls are the first brother-sister combo in Kansas history to win state wrestling championships.

“Just getting to do that with him makes it that much more special,” Darby said. “Doing it with my brother and best friend made it amazing. Being the first brother-sister duo in history to do it is icing on the cake. We had no clue.”

Dalton said it is a special accomplishment to share.

“It will always be there,” he said. “Nobody can ever take that away from us. It is awesome. It will definitely be one that I will never forget. It means a lot.”

Darby said it was special to accomplish dreams together.

“It makes my heart full because may be when we did [argue] at practice and I would not agree with him on some things…he knows more than I do. No one else gets those moments like we did. That made me a better athlete, learning that I am not always right. He proved it to me.”