The Fort Dodge wrestling team returns home this evening for a triangular with long-time rival Mason City and No. 7 (Class 3A) Ankeny.
Action begins with the Dodgers and Mohawks at 5:30 p.m. Mason City will then wrestle Ankeny at approximately 7 p.m., followed by Fort Dodge facing the Hawks at around 8:30 p.m.
With districts less than a month away, FDSH head coach Bobby Thompson knows each time his squad steps on the mat is an important one.
"The big thing for us right now is getting ready for districts," Thompson said. "Everything we are working on in practice, and hoping to see out on the mat, is geared towards that."
Fort Dodge (4-3 overall, 1-0 CIC Northern) is led by second-ranked Duke Egli, who is a perfect 25-0 and competes at 170 pounds. Riley Prescott is rated eighth at 195, while Kyle Johnson is No. 9 at 220.
Mason City (9-12, 2-0) has earned conference victories over both Ames and Marshalltown, and can clinch the league dual title with a win over the Dodgers. Kaz Onoo leads the Mohawks, as he is the top-ranked wrestler at 113 pounds and is 21-2.
Fort Dodge (4-3)
106 - Erik Birnbaum, soph. (22-5); 113 - Cole Detmering, jr. (2-8); 120 - Kole Evans, jr. (14-12); 126 - Logan Huebsch, sr. (0-0); 132 - Cory Alexander, jr. (11-12); 138 - Jonah Egli, fr. (18-8); 145 - Matt Osborne, sr. (8-9); 152 - Kole Kampen, fr. (12-12); 160 - Open; 170 - Duke Egli, sr. (25-0); 182 - Sam Cook, fr. (19-8); 195 - Riley Prescott, jr. (19-8); 220 - Kyle Johnson, sr. (22-7); 285 - Carlos Rocha, jr. (1-5).
Stone Sturges is sixth at 152, while Andrew Bartel is seventh at 160.
"Likely, the winner between us and Mason City is going to win that first CIC title," Thompson said. "While that isn't the most important thing for us right now, it is something I think we'd all like to pick up if we can. You want to win as much as possible, and we know (the Mohawks) are going to bring it to us.
"This is a long, storied rivalry that was competitive when I was (wrestling) here and will be competitive (Thursday)."
The dual with Mason City is also important for Thompson because they will see the Mohawks on Feb. 9 at a district meet back inside the FDSH gym.
Ankeny (15-1) features eight ranked grapplers, including Joel Lanning, an Iowa State University football recruit. Lanning is 8-3 on the year.
Austin Anderson is 20-1 and rated fourth at 120, while Xavier Quigley is undefeated (20-0) and No. 4 at heavyweight. Other ranked wrestlers for the Hawks include Patrick Steffen (No. 10, 145), Lucas Lockhart (No. 10, 152), Sam Pickard (No. 8, 170), John Ware (No. 10, 182) and Wil Simpkins (No. 10, 195).
"Ankeny is a typical Ankeny team: big, strong, athletic and deep," Thompson said. "I feel like we match up with them pretty well, but we are going to have to be mentally strong and not give up any bonus points."
The Hawks have only lost to Southeast Polk this year, and own 107 falls as a collective team. They have allowed just 46 pins against the opposition.
Ankeny is coached by ex-Dodger standout Dave Ewing, who placed second twice for FDSH in 1979 and '80.