Earn respect

Fort Dodge Senior High is the place to be on Thursday night, when nationally-ranked wrestling programs square off inside the Dodger gym.

Fort Dodge, the early No. 1 team in Iowa’s largest class, tests the waters of the elite in a highly-anticipated dual with defending state champion and No. 3 Southeast Polk.

It’s only December, and thus, no trophies will be exchanged after the match. Even so, head coach Bobby Thompson’s squad has the opportunity to send an early message that his Dodgers are more than just a trendy paper title pick this season.

Sixteen rated individuals are slated to be in action, including potential Top-10 matchups at 106, 113, 126 and 132 pounds. This may be the first time FDSH and the Rams see each other on the mat this year, but it certainly won’t be the last; the Central Iowa Conference Invitational is in Pleasant Hill on Jan. 29, and of course, the final say comes at the state meet Feb. 18-20.

The Rams, who have captured two of the last three Class 3A crowns, have something Fort Dodge is craving. This isn’t just about a trophy upgrade, though. Despite their rich and storied history – the Dodgers have 11 team titles and 52 individual golds on their all-time resume – the program hasn’t tasted the kind of sustainable success Southeast Polk has recently experienced in quite some time.

Fort Dodge is two spots higher than the Rams in The Predicament’s preseason state rankings, but 15 spots lower than Southeast Polk nationally, according to InterMat. The Dodgers are gaining recognition and notoriety, but the final step in the climb – universal respect – is the most challenging one. The Rams have established it based on their track record over the last decade. The onus is now on Fort Dodge to do the same.

THE END OF AN ERA: Rick Brown’s touching farewell column in last Sunday’s Des Moines Register marked the final chapter of a Fort Dodge family’s 60-year relationship with newspaper readers across the midwest.

Brown, who got his start as a high school part-timer under his father and Hall of Fame Sports Editor Bob Brown at The Messenger, began working for The Register in 1978. The Fort Dodge Senior High graduate was a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year, covering the Iowa Hawkeyes, the state’s golf scene and a little of everything in between.

Bob was named Sports Editor at The Messenger in 1956. His decorated career here spanned 37 years, which fittingly happens to be the exact length of Rick’s tenure at The Register. Over 20,000 sports sections here and in Des Moines featured their work in some capacity.

Bob and Rick were both titans of our industry, and based on the conversations we had through the years, Bob – who passed away in 2012 – was staunchly proud of Rick’s accomplishments.

Consistency is no longer a cornerstone of our profession. In this day and age, bylines and faces come and go, almost becoming an interchangeable and unrecognizable blur.

The Brown family served as a trusted name on the Iowa sports scene for six full decades. That’s unprecedented longevity. We owe them both a nod of appreciation and a sincere thank you for a level of loyalty and professionalism we will never see again.

A SEASON TO REMEMBER: The honors continue to roll in for the national champion Iowa Central women’s soccer team.

Christiane Lessa was named NJCAA coach of the year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America late last week. And St. Edmond graduate Paige Savery, who played at Fort Dodge as a prep, was one of just three United States natives to receive All-American recognition.

The Tritons posted an overall record of 18-1, outscoring their opponents by a combined goal count of 84-6 in the process. They joined the Iowa Central men’s cross country squad and women’s individual runner Leanne Pompeani as national gold medalists this fall.

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