The evening’s true purpose, though, has very little to do with what happens on the mat.
A free-will donation for former Dodger wrestling standout Doug Black complements Thursday’s triangular, which gets under way at 6 p.m.
Black, a current head wrestling coach at South High School in Blue Springs, Mo., is travelling to China in February with his six-year-old daughter Lydia. There, Lydia Black will have exploratory surgery in an attempt to reverse the blindness that has affected her since birth.
“It’s not covered by insurance, so obviously, a lot of us want to help Doug and his family out any way we can,” FDSH head coach Bobby Thompson said. “They feel like there’s a good chance she could recover full sight from this.
“(Athletic departments) in Missouri are raising money for them, and we’d like to do the same. It’s a worthy cause, trying to help an ex-Dodger in need.”
Fort Dodge (2-0 overall) has a score to settle with the Tigers, who rallied to upend the Dodgers in a dual last season at West Des Moines on their way to a CIML Iowa Conference championship.
“(That result) is still kind of stuck in our craw,” Thompson said. “We feel like we let that one slip away, and it cost us a chance at (a league title). We both have a lot of kids back, and I feel like Valley and Mason City are our direct competitors (in the CIML Iowa division).
“We need to take care of business on our home mat. It’s going to be a great environment, and you know when you’re facing big schools like Valley and Dowling, you’ll see some tremendous athletes and you have to be at your very best.”
The Dodgers placed second at their own Don Miller Invitational last Saturday, ahead of No. 4 Council Bluffs Lewis Central but behind 10th-ranked Ankeny. Fort Dodge did so without three-time state qualifier Ryan Halverson, who will be out for at least four more weeks with a torn MCL.
“There really isn’t any change in Ryan’s status — they’re still saying six weeks, and it’s been a little over two so far,” Thompson said. “We’ll re-evaluate again when we’re at about a month. We don’t want to rush him back and risk a more significant injury.”
Valley brings 10th-ranked (103 pounds) Brandon Jones to town and No. 4 (112) Stephen Hernandez. The Maroons don’t have any individuals rated, but Thompson said, “I know their program’s going in the right direction under (first-year head coach) John Garvin.
“He had a track record of success at Saydel, and he brought some quality kids with him from that program,” Thompson said. “It should be a good night of wrestling overall.”
Junior varsity and varsity matches will run simultaneously on both mats.
If you cannot attend tonight’s meet but would like to donate to the Black family, please contact coach Thompson at (515) 408-3443, or Bud Pecoy at Mid-Country Machinery (515-574-2302).
Contact Eric Pratt at (515) 573-2141, or by e-mail at email@example.com
Fact BoxPROBABLE DODGER LINEUP
103: Monty Arends, so. 4-5
112: Chase Grove, so. 8-2
119: Keegan Nelson, so. 2-3
125: Cody Marsh, jr. 6-3
130: Cole Clarken, so. 8-0
135: Brandon Stewart, jr. 2-3
140: Keaton Lunn, jr. 3-1
145: Nate Halverson, jr. 6-2
152: Trevor Archibald, sr. 5-5
160: Jason Trushcheff, sr. 8-0
171: Tyler Wingerson, jr. 7-2
189: Matt Springer, sr. 7-2
215: Sean Springer, jr. 5-4
285: Jacob Jamison, jr. 6-3