Dodgers host Garst Invite

Fort Dodge comes in as the event’s defending champion

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla J.R. Brandt of Fort Dodge competes in the Dodger pool earlier this year.

The Fort Dodge boys swim team will try to make it two straight titles here Saturday when they host the 26th annual Rusty Garst Invitational.

Action begins at 12:30 p.m. inside the FDSH pool.

Joining the host Dodgers will be Atlantic, Carroll, Decorah, Newton, Sioux City, Spencer and Waterloo West.

Last year, Fort Dodge head coach Joel Greathouse made a relay change that helped spring the Dodgers to team gold over Sioux City.

“It’s a solid field of teams and I think we can be right there at the top again,” Greathouse said. “Overall, it looks like a meet that starts to show what we are capable of doing. We are always excited for our home meet and I really believe it is ours to win.”

Fort Dodge finished with 389 points, 29 ahead of Sioux City, which had won three consecutive meet titles. Carroll was third followed by Atlantic, Waterloo West, Newton, Decorah and Spencer.

The Dodgers won four individual events and the medley relay, with Mitchell Emery winning the 100 butterfly, Cole Pearson the 100 backstroke, Cole Davis the 200 I.M. and Andrew Fierke the 500 freestyle.

Pearson and Fierke are back leading the Dodgers this year.

Fierke currently holds the second-fastest 500 free and 200 free times in the entire state, going 4:43.71 in the distance event and 1:45.69 in the 200.

“Andrew is going to swim the breaststroke too and that is an event he hasn’t lost this year,” Greathouse said. “But there is some good swimmers entered and I think it will really show where he can actually be when it comes down to it.”

Pearson, meanwhile, is fifth in the 100 free with a time of 48.27. He was also the runner-up in the 200 free here a year ago, accounting for 55.5 team points through his performances.

Fort Dodge is 16th in the team power rankings, one spot — and one point — ahead of Sioux City. Carroll is 22nd and Newton 25th.

“Sioux City is right there ranked with us, and Carroll has some strong athletes,” Greathouse said. “A few other teams have a good athlete or two that will push us for some top spots.”

In a few weeks, the Dodgers will once again play host to a key meet, as districts are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 3 back here. Carroll, Sioux City and Spencer will be joined by Boone, Cedar Falls, Mason City and Storm Lake.