GOING TO WORK
7 Dodgers in quarterfinals; 10 still in action
DES MOINES – Bobby Thompson knew heading into the state tournament that if his Fort Dodge wrestling team was going to be in the chase for a Class 3A title, they would need all of their qualifiers to contribute.
After the first day of action, the Dodgers have 10 of their 11 grapplers alive and ready to make a run at defending state champion Southeast Polk.
“We really couldn’t have had a much better day (than Thursday),” Thompson said. “Cowell losing hurts, but he had a tough draw with two ranked wrestlers. They all fought hard and standing within one-and-a-half points of the Rams is a good place to be.”
The Rams currently stand in first place with 30 points, while the Dodgers trail with 28.5 points. North Scott (22.5) is third, followed by West Des Moines Valley (22).
The Dodgers will enter today’s quarterfinal round with seven on the championship side and three on the back.
Southeast Polk has eight in the quarterfinals and one on the backside. North Scott has eight quarterfinalists, while the Tigers advanced seven.
Quarterfinal action begins for Class 3A and 1A inside Wells Fargo Arena at 9 a.m. and will run through 1 p.m. 3A and 1A second round consolations will also be wrestled.
Class 2A quarterfinals and 3A semifinals will run from 2:30 p.m. to 5;45 p.m., along with 3A third round consolations and 2A second round consolations.
“We need our veteran guys to keep showing leadership,” Thompson said. “They’ve all been down here and have been guiding our newcomers. We can’t win this with just them, though — we need some of the other guys to get on the podium.”
In five of the seven opening round wins for the Dodgers, bonus points were earned. They had four falls and a technical fall.
Sixth-ranked Damond Lockner (40-7) came up with a huge victory for the Dodgers at 126 pounds. Lockner earned a tight 3-1 decision over No. 4 Will Foreman. Lockner record a takedown late in the third period to seal the victory.
Lockner will now face ninth-ranked Bryson Hervol (36-11) of Waverly-Shell Rock in the quarterfinals. Lockner already owns a victory over Hervol this season.
“That was a huge win for us against a top opponent,” Thompson said. “Damond wrestled smart and has been this whole week. That puts him in contention, and now we have a familiar opponent in the quarters.”
Making his state debut, senior Keaton Dornath (36-10) earned his 99th career victory in his 182-pound opener, recording bonus points with a fall over Kent Kragenbrink of Dubuque Hempstead in 5:09.
Dornath will now challenge top-rated Max Lyon (46-0) of Western Dubuque.
“That was a big match for Keaton,” Thompson said. “He got the first takedown and got some key bonus points.
“He’s not satisfied, which is something we keep preaching.”
Sophomore Triston Licht (18-5) survived a tight challenge from Reece Bowlin at 195 pounds to advance in his state debut. Licht took a 6-4 decision.
Licht’s next opponent will be second-ranked Isaac Bartel (26-3) of Mason City.
“Triston got some of the jitters out and came away with a big win,” Thompson said. “Both he and Keaton will now have to face two hammers, but they just have to wrestle with confidence and compete.”
Fort Dodge’s top-ranked trio of Drew Bennett (39-0 at 113), Brody Teske (43-0 at 120) and Triston Lara (41-1 at 138) all registered bonus points for the Dodgers.
Bennett, who is now 99-6 in his career, slapped a quick first-period fall (1:12) on Dalton Book of Glenwood. Bennett will now look for his 100th win against Ryan Steffensmeier of Fort Madison.
Teske, a two-time defending state champion, also picked up a fall in the first period (1:55), pinning Colby Schriever of Mason City. Teske, ranked second nationally at 120, is now 132-0 in his career.
Teske will square off with Anthony Watts (33-18) of Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson in the quarterfinals.
Lara (138) picked up a technical fall in his 138-pound opener over Zach Oldham (16-1 in 4:06). Lara, the school’s career win leader, is now 167-12.
The University of Northern Iowa recruit now tackles fifth-ranked Gabriel Kjeldgaard (35-6) of Lewis Central in the quarterfinals.
Second-ranked Cayd Lara (152) also earned a fall for the Dodgers, pinning Iowa City High’s Wilfred Kadohou in 49 seconds. Lara upped his career record to 126-20.
Cayd will meet eight-rated Zane Mulder (37-2) of Dallas Center-Grimes in his quarterfinal match.
“We know our hammers (Bennett, Teske, Lara and Lara) are going to be in keeping us in contention,” Thompson said. “They all got us needed bonus points. But we need all 10 of our guys to keep fighting if we want a shot at this.”
Three of the four Dodgers that lost in the opening round came back with victories to stay alive, and are one win from the medal stand.
Sophomore Drevon Ross (35-15) suffered a fall to Southeast Polk’s top-ranked Cade Devos (40-2) at 132 pounds. Ross fought back with a fall (4:27) over Sioux City North’s Anthony Jurado.
Junior Dorian Franklin (21-17) dropped an 8-0 major decision to second-ranked Mac Southard (33-1) of Lewis Central at 160 pounds. Franklin then knocked off seventh-ranked Tyger Whitters (33-14) of Cedar Rapids Prairie 2-1.
“Dorian battled on the backside,” Thompson said. “He’s been in some close matches lately and ended up on the short end, but he came out on top (Thursday).
“Drevon was able to come up huge on the backside as well.”
Kaden Smith (31-17) suffered a 15-2 major decision loss to seventh-ranked Bryce Pilcher (37-6) of Cedar Falls. The sophomore then bounced back with a 9-7 triumph over Anthony Stock of Davenport West at 170 pounds.
“Kaden just kept coming (in the consolation round),” Thompson said. “It’s nice to see the young guys come through for us.”
Freshman Brooks Cowell (15-11) had a tough draw in the 103-pound bracket, losing to third-ranked Conrad Braswell (26-5) of Cedar Rapids Prairie. Cowell was then eliminated by No. 9 Aiden Evans of Bettendorf, 11-3.