EMMETSBURG - The Fort Dodge wrestling team put all of the pieces of their puzzle together here on Saturday to earn the championship at the Emmetsburg Invitational.
The Dodgers (219 points), who finished second here a year ago and won the title in 2010, were 12.5 points ahead of city counterpart St. Edmond (206.5) in the final standings.
"This win was very important for us,'' said FDSH head coach Bobby Thompson. "With how poorly we wrestled on Thursday and to bounce back the way we did - our young men proved something to me.
Photo by Dan Voigt, for The Messenger
Fort Dodge's Duke Egli works his way to an individual title in Emmetsburg on Saturday.
"This is huge for our confidence, especially heading into the rest of our schedule.''
Fort Dodge had seven wrestlers in the championship round, with Erik Birnbaum (106), Jonah Egli (138), Duke Egli (170) and Kyle Johnson (285) winning titles.
Wrestling in the same tournament as the Dodgers for the first time, the Gaels held strong, putting four wrestlers in the finals and claiming three titles.
Winning titles for the Gaels were Kaden McClintock (113), Teddie Harvey (152) and Vinnie Harvey (220).
"This tournament was good for us,'' said first-year St. Edmond head coach Tanner Utley. "To wrestle in this type of atmosphere was a nice test. We wrestled in tough matches right of the gate."
Egli (170) remained unbeaten on the season and repeated as an Emmetsburg champion. Egli, who is ranked fifth (3A), picked up two falls and beat third-ranked Nick Schany (1A) of Emmetsburg in the finals.
Egli's freshman brother Jonah claimed his first tournament championship, winning the 138-pound crown.
"Duke had a solid day and he just dominated and picked up a big win over Schany of Emmetsburg,'' Thompson said. "Picking up his first title against upperclassmen was a real solid day for Jonah.''
Birnbaum (106), a 10th-ranked sophomore, won his second title of the season. Johnson, a senior, bumped up to 285 from 220 to claim the heavyweight title.
"Erik won a tough match against (Ryan) Szalat of St. Edmond in the semifinals,'' Thompson said. "He beat a kid from Battle Creek, who beat the defending champion. Erik improved a lot.
"It was impressive for Kyle to win his first title, wrestling against bigger guys.''
Kole Evans (120), Kole Kampen (152) and 10th-ranked Riley Prescott (195) were second for FDSH. A trio of freshmen - Cole Detmering (113), Willie Moretz (160) and Sam Cook (182) - finished third for the Dodgers.
Cory Alexander (132) and Matt Osborne (145) were fourth. Cameron Hicks (126) placed fifth. All 13 Dodgers were in the top five of their respective weights.
"We got some quality wins,'' Thompson said.
For the Gaels, McClintock earned a fall in 1:55 in the finals. Teddie Harvey earned a fall in 58 seconds over Kampen.
Vinnie Harvey picked up an impressive 8-1 deicision over eighth-ranked Tayler Wegner of Emmetsburg.
"These three guys aren't satisfied with the way things went last year and are determined to improve on that,'' Utley said. "Kaden knows what it takes and he is a very motivated wrestler.
"Vinnie has improved a lot. Something has clicked and he is moving a lot late in matches. None of these guys settle.''
Freshman Nick Johnson (126) had a strong day and came away with his silver finish, losing to ninth-ranked Colby McIntire of Central Lyon.
"We knew he was going to be a key piece to this team,'' Utley said. "He was getting after and competing strong in a tough tournament."
Ryan Szalat (106) and Matt Stumpf (138) finished third for the Gaels.
Freshman Peyton Sitzmann (120) came away with a fourth place finish in his first varsity action. Also finishing fourth were Nick Hindt (160), Jimmy Averill (170), Dillon Nelson (182) and Caelan Burbank (285).
Emmetsburg's Jake Miller won the 120-pound championship, as did top-ranked Andrew Wellik (182). Miller earned a fall over Evans of Fort Dodge. Wellik won a tight 2-1 decision in the finals.
Brady Bailey was a champion for the E-Hawks at 160 pounds as well. McCartan was also champ with his victory over Prescott at 195.
The Dodgers are back in action on Thursday when they travel to Webster City to face the Lynx and Algona.
The Gaels are back in action on Thursday at Carroll.