PLEASANT HILL - Head coach Bobby Thompson is optimistic about what lies ahead for his Fort Dodge wrestling team at tonight's CIC Invitational.
Action begins at 4 p.m., with the finals set for around 9 p.m.
Eighteen teams from four different divisions will make up the field. Joining the Dodgers from the North are Ames, Marshalltown and Mason City.
Eastern participants are Ankeny, Ankeny Centennial, Southeast Polk and Waukee. From the West are West Des Moines Dowling, Johnston, Urbandale and West Des Moines Valley.
Competitors from the Metro are Des Moines East, Des Moines Lincoln, Des Moines North-Hoover, Des Moines Roosevelt, Indianola and Ottumwa.
A total of 36 ranked individuals will be on hand, with eight of those being either No. 1 or No. 2 at their respective weights. No. 3 (Class 3A) Southeast Polk and No. 9 (3A) Mason City are the rated teams.
106 - Triston Lara, fr. (33-2); 113 - Erik Birnbaum, jr. (30-4); 120 - Cole Detmering, so. (24-14); 126 - Kole Evans, sr. (8-8); 132 - Keenan Cook, so. (11-21); 138 - Open; 145 - Logan Kipfmiller, jr. (12-16); 152 - Jonah Egli, so. (27-6); 160 - Open; 170 - Keaton Dornath, fr. (16-21); 182 - Sam Cook, so. (29-5); 195 - Riley Prescott, sr. (27-10); 220 - Open; 285 - Open.
"We're going to be open at four weights (138, 160, 220 and 285), but I like our chances with the guys we're bringing," Thompson said. "It'll obviously be hard to compete with Southeast Polk, but I think we can make some noise with where we're sitting in the brackets. I feel like we have a pretty decent chance of getting some top four placewinners (this evening)."
In their last outing on Saturday at the Go-Hawk Duals in Waverly, FDSH compiled a 3-2 mark. Freshman Triston Lara, junior Erik Birnbaum and sophomore Sam Cook all managed unbeaten 5-0 records, while sophomore Jonah Egli went 4-1 for the Dodgers.
Fourth-ranked Lara (106 pounds), No. 8 Birnbaum (113) and fifth-rated Cook (182) anchor Fort Dodge's lineup. Lara (33-2 overall) and Birnbaum (30-4) have posted the most wins for the Dodgers this season.
The host Rams once again appear to be the clear favorite on paper, entering the meet with seven ranked grapplers, including Nolan Hellickson (No. 2 at 120), Jonah Williams (No. 10 at 126), Keegan Shaw (No. 3 at 132), Aaron Meyer (No. 3 at 138), Briar Dittmer (No. 3 at 145), Ethan Anderson (No. 2 at 220) and Jake Marnin (No. 3 at 285).
"Valley will probably be fighting for second, but third and fourth look to be kind of open," said Thompson. "With the (regular) season winding down and only nine more actual practices left, it's important that we perform well every time we step out on the mat."
Among the spotlight matches is a potential championship showdown at 126 between Mason City's No. 1 Kaz Onoo (30-0) and Indianola's second-ranked John Gioffredi (34-1).
Lara could also potentially avenge one of his losses against Waukee's No. 3 Jakob Allison (33-1) in the finals.
Last year, the Dodgers placed fifth at the CIC Invitational with 112 points. Southeast Polk (295.5) easily outdistanced runner-up Valley (159.5).