Youth wrestling camp bringing big names back to FD

Teske, Cook, Bennett, Laras will be counselors for three-day clinic

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Fort Dodge's Drew Bennett (left) and Brody Teske fist bump during the Dodgers' welcome-home ceremony last February.

The band is getting back together next month in Fort Dodge, when five Div. I Dodger wrestlers will return to their old stomping grounds for the “Wolfpack Wrestling Club” end of summer training camp.

Brody Teske, Sam Cook, Triston Lara, Drew Bennett and Cayd Lara will be lead counselors for the three-day event, which runs Aug. 10-12 at FDSH. Students entering grades 3-12 are eligible to participate.

The quintet all competed for Bobby Thompson’s 2015-16 Dodger squad, which placed second at state. Teske, Bennett and the Lara brothers then helped bring a runner-up trophy back the following year, and last season, Teske, Bennett and Cayd Lara spearheaded the program’s first championship campaign since 1985.

Fort Dodge’s fab five accumulated a total of nine individual titles, three silver medals, four bronze finishes and an overall record of 839-63.

“We’re all looking forward to this,” said Teske, a freshman at Penn State University who initially pitched the idea. “It started kind of casually with a text. I said, ‘hey, do you guys want to help?’ They were all in right away.

“We’ve all been so blessed through this sport. I didn’t get to this level by myself … so many people helped me along the way. That’s what Fort Dodge is all about. There are kids out there who want to succeed, and I want this to be what helps push them. When you get to this level, you appreciate how far you’ve come and you want to give back.”

Teske, the school’s only four-time state champ who finished his unprecedented career with a record of 177-1, returns to Fort Dodge on Aug. 9 after six weeks of offseason training in State College, Pa. He’ll be in town for a little over a week before classes start at Penn State on Aug. 21.

Teske is pushing an early introduction to the high school wrestling room experience.

“When I was in 3rd of 4th grade, I remember going to a camp here and thinking it was about the best thing in the world,” Teske said. “I loved it, being in and around the big-time environment and the (FDSH) program.”

Cook, a redshirt sophomore wrestler at the University of Iowa, called it a “great opportunity for Fort Dodge and the surrounding area.”

“When you leave Senior High and the community, you start to appreciate what it means to you and the way it helped shape you as an athlete and as a person,” said Cook, who won prep championships in both 2015 and ’16. “This is all about our passion for the sport and for our town. And I think it will help bring (the five of) us together; we’ve gone our separate ways, but I’m really looking forward to working with them again.

“We’ve all learned so much from some of the elite wrestling minds in the world. This will be the perfect chance to spread that knowledge to the future of our sport. We have a great chemistry, and our names are still fresh, which I think will resonate with the kids from the area.”

Cook added, “there are very few things as special as helping a kid grow and apply what they learned.”

“I’ve worked some other (University of Iowa) youth camps, and it’s just such a fulfilling experience,” Cook said. “To see them develop and get excited … that’s a very rewarding gift.”

Triston Lara, a sophomore-to-be at the University of Northern Iowa and a two-time state champ himself, said he is “just very excited to give back and spread some of my wrestling knowledge to the wrestlers of a great community that has done so much for me.”

Cayd Lara, who is about to join Triston in Cedar Falls as a member of the Panthers, said “this motivates me to guide these individuals to be great in the wrestling room and out.”

“Not many athletes get the opportunity to come back to their home town to run a camp and help grow the sport,” said Lara, a two-time individual runner-up for the Dodgers. “We’ll take this opportunity full throttle, and I’m excited to see where it goes.”

Bennett, a two-time bronze medalist and 2018 state champ, “wants to help the future get ready to win some titles by introducing them to new moves” before he moves on and joins the Lara brothers at UNI.

Teske is stressing the importance of campers “coming and having a good time.”

“If you can have fun and learn some things that you’ll take with you … that’s something to build from,” Teske said. “We’ll dive into other areas for the more experienced kids, but I’m not as worried about (talent level of each individual).

“I want to see as many kids as possible there, and I want this to be just the beginning. We hope that it keeps growing. This isn’t a one-time deal. We want the room full.”

Cost is $50 per camper. All checks must be made payable to FDSH wrestling. There will be early-morning warm-ups and runs beginning at 8 a.m., followed by work on each style: folkstyle, freestyle and Greco. Activities will conclude mid-afternoon on Friday and Saturday, and at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Questions and early registration forms are available on Facebook (Fort Dodge Wrestling), Twitter (@FDWrestling) and via FDSH assistant Tanner Utley at (515) 570-4032 or tannerutley@gmail.com. Students may register the first day of the event, but there will be an added $10 charge. This is not an overnight camp.