It takes a village

DES MOINES – They technically count as individual accomplishments, but the wrestling championships earned by Fort Dodge’s Sam Cook and Brody Teske on Saturday night weren’t won alone.

Far from it.

The Dodgers turned back the clock on both their culture and expectations this past week during the traditional state tournament inside Wells Fargo Arena. Fort Dodge earned the program’s first team trophy since 1996, with Cook and Teske both ending an 11-year title drought at the school.

The junior and freshman didn’t hesitate to deflect the attention in their moment of glory, though, crediting teammates and coaches rather than patting themselves on the back. The seven state medalists – tied for the most ever by a Dodger squad – then followed suit and did the same during a welcome-home ceremony in front of a large crowd at FDSH Sunday.

“We’re like brothers,” said Cook, who further cemented his legacy among the school’s all-time best student-athletes despite still being an underclassman. “Our goal was to put a statement out there to the rest of the state that we’re here for business and we’re not going anywhere.

“We respect each other and want to earn the respect of our opponents. It all starts there. You have to set the tone with the right mentality – that it’s not about you, but the program.”

The modest Cook, also an elite team all-state tailback, state track participant and varsity baseball regular, rarely uses “I” when interviewed. Regardless of the sport, he is steadfast in emphasizing a family environment.

It would be easy for Cook, Teske and Fort Dodge to rest on its laurels after their 2015 performance. Instead, Cook insists these Dodgers are just getting started.

“We are going to continue to hold each other accountable,” Cook said when asked about the traps of satisfaction. “That’s how you avoid (complacency). You keep working hard and you make sure everyone else around you puts the time in. Reaching your full potential doesn’t happen if you stop and just start admiring things you’ve done in the past.”

Teske took a collective wrecking ball to his competition despite being a newcomer on the high school scene. He finished the program’s first undefeated campaign since 2004 by capturing the only freshman state title in FDSH’s long and storied history.

Yet like Cook, Teske spoke more to the collective journey together than the final destination.

“If we put the hard work into the offseason, the individual and team stuff takes care of itself,” Teske said. “We all want to be successful. We all want to win. But we can’t just talk about it and think it’s going to happen because everyone else says it will. It takes time and commitment, and being on the same page.

“We’re very close, and we need each other. It’s not just (the seven state qualifiers) who made this happen. You get better when your teammates push you. That’s when you start to really make noise.”

Every Dodger medalist – including senior Erik Birnbaum (fifth place, 120 pounds), juniors Jonah Egli (sixth, 160) and Keenan Cook (eighth, 126), sophomore Triston Lara (second, 113) and freshman Cayd Lara (seventh, 132) – were in lockstep at Sunday’s assembly. Despite still being collectively young, this group obviously grasps the value of team unity in handling the pressures and expectations that tend to come with being a Fort Dodge wrestler.

The talent is undeniable, but physical ability isn’t what separates the great from the good. The Dodger wrestling program is in capable hands moving forward because of this group’s disposition.

Their mentality is wise beyond their years. They get it.

“There’s nothing like being a Dodger,” Cook said. “Our families and the fans mean so much to us. We understand what we represent, and we don’t want to let them down.”

Teske – whose father, Dan, was a state placewinner in 1987 – agreed.

“It’s awesome to have that kind of support,” Teske said. “A lot of us had dads who were successful here in high school. We listen. We pay attention.

”We want to create our own legacy, and we know that the best way to to do that is by working hard and staying hungry.”

From top to bottom, the Fort Dodge wrestling program deserves credit for developing athletes who have the ability to reach elite status in the years to come. But more importantly, the community should take pride in the fact that away from the mat, they have raised these young men the right way.

The Dodger way.

Eric Pratt is Sports Editor at The Messenger. He may be reached afternoons and evenings at 1-800-622-6613, or by e-mail at sports@messengernews.net

It takes a village

DES MOINES – They technically count as individual accomplishments, but the wrestling championships earned by Fort Dodge’s Sam Cook and Brody Teske on Saturday night weren’t won alone.

Far from it.

The Dodgers turned back the clock on both their culture and expectations this past week during the traditional state tournament inside Wells Fargo Arena. Fort Dodge earned the program’s first team trophy since 1996, with Cook and Teske both ending an 11-year title drought at the school.

The junior and freshman didn’t hesitate to deflect the attention in their moment of glory, though, crediting teammates and coaches rather than patting themselves on the back. The seven state medalists – tied for the most ever by a Dodger squad – then followed suit and did the same during a welcome-home ceremony in front of a large crowd at FDSH Sunday.

“We’re like brothers,” said Cook, who further cemented his legacy among the school’s all-time best student-athletes with his senior year still to come. “Our goal was to put a statement out there to the rest of the state that we’re here for business and we’re not going anywhere.

“We respect each other and want to earn the respect of our opponents. It all starts there. You have to set the tone with the right mentality – that it’s not about you, but the program.”

The modest Cook, also an elite team all-state tailback, state track participant and varsity baseball regular, rarely uses “I” when interviewed. Regardless of the sport, he is steadfast in emphasizing a family environment.

It would be easy for Cook, Teske and Fort Dodge to rest on its laurels after their 2015 performance. Instead, Cook insists these Dodgers are just getting started.

“We are going to continue to hold each other accountable,” Cook said when asked about the traps of satisfaction. “That’s how you avoid (complacency). You keep working hard and you make sure everyone else around you puts the time in. Reaching your full potential doesn’t happen if you stop and just start admiring things you’ve done in the past.”

Teske took a collective wrecking ball to his competition despite being a newcomer on the high school scene. He finished the program’s first undefeated campaign since 2004 by capturing the only freshman state title in FDSH’s long and storied history.

Yet like Cook, Teske spoke more to the collective journey together than the final destination.

“If we put the hard work into the offseason, the individual and team stuff takes care of itself,” Teske said. “We all want to be successful. We all want to win. But we can’t just talk about it and think it’s going to happen because everyone else says it will. It takes time and commitment, and being on the same page.

“We’re very close, and we need each other. It’s not just (the seven state qualifiers) who made this happen. You get better when your teammates push you. That’s when you start to really make noise.”

Every Dodger medalist – including senior Erik Birnbaum (fifth place, 120 pounds), juniors Jonah Egli (sixth, 160) and Keenan Cook (eighth, 126), sophomore Triston Lara (second, 113) and freshman Cayd Lara (seventh, 132) – were in lockstep at Sunday’s assembly. Despite still being collectively young, this group obviously grasps the value of team unity in handling the pressures and expectations that tend to come with being a Fort Dodge wrestler.

The talent is undeniable, but physical ability isn’t what separates the great from the good. The Dodger wrestling program is in capable hands moving forward because of this group’s disposition.

Their mentality is wise beyond their years. They get it.

“There’s nothing like being a Dodger,” Cook said. “Our families and the fans mean so much to us. We understand what we represent, and we don’t want to let them down.”

Teske – whose father, Dan, was a state placewinner in 1987 – agreed.

“It’s awesome to have that kind of support,” Teske said. “A lot of us had dads who were successful here in high school. We listen. We pay attention.

”We want to create our own legacy, and we know that the best way to to do that is by working hard and staying hungry.”

From top to bottom, the Fort Dodge wrestling program deserves credit for developing athletes who have the ability to reach elite status in the years to come. But more importantly, the community should take pride in the fact that away from the mat, they have raised these young men the right way.

The Dodger way.

Eric Pratt is Sports Editor at The Messenger. He may be reached afternoons and evenings at 1-800-622-6613, or by e-mail at sports@messengernews.net