Congratulations, Dodgers

Fort Dodge wrestlers’ greatness doesn’t end on the mat

“True winners never rest, never stop believing, and never give up on the dreams of making the world around them a better place through passion, love and commitment.”

That’s Messenger Sports Editor Eric Pratt writing about the wrestlers of Fort Dodge Senior High.

In the heady aftermath of the team’s long-awaited state championship, so much can be said about their collective and individual triumphs at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines Saturday night.

Nail-biting?

There was some. After all, the win was so wanted. Decades had passed with the Dodgers left in the wings. But putting to rest a 33-year wait has perhaps made this state tournament victory 33 times sweeter.

Doubt?

None. Aside from their obvious skill and desire, there was an unwavering drive to make sure the mission would be completed.

Not just the wins.

Not just the championships.

But something else. An unspoken promise that a beleaguered town is no longer down. Through our wrestlers, this place is hanging out a shingle and here’s what it says: Fort Dodge is getting down to business.

Is that too far of a stretch? We don’t think so. These young wrestlers, these young men, embody the characteristics of greatness. That’s where Pratt’s words echo over and over in their truth: passion, love, commitment. Why would we think that greatness ends on the mat? They are a product of this town, which embraces them. And they, in turn, are imbued with the mood of success that has become pervasive in this town.

So here’s to them.

In the last four years alone, the Dodgers have brought 29 individual medals back to Fort Dodge, including nine championships. In addition to this year’s dual and traditional team crowns, there have been two team state runner-up trophies, one state duals runner-up showing, and a third-place performance.

That’s a lot of hardware, especially for a school of 829 students in grades 9, 10 and 11 that finished immediately ahead of CIML heavyweights Waukee (1,895 students), Southeast Polk (1,535) and West Des Moines Valley (2,176).

Also, here’s to their remarkable head coach, Bobby Thompson. As Pratt said in his column on Sunday, “Thompson’s program has given us a blueprint for succeeding long-term against the odds. Fort Dodge Senior High isn’t ever going to be the biggest school with the best resources. But let’s be honest: how often are any of us naturally the biggest or the best at what we do?”

That is a crucial truth, don’t you think?

Welcome home, state champions.

Welcome back, Fort Dodge.

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