Ayala headed to Fargo finals again

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Drake Ayala of Fort Dodge wrestles against Waukee Thurman Christensen during a Class 3A semifinal bout on Friday in Des Moines. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

FARGO, N.D. — It’s been two years since Drake Ayala won a Fargo national championship, but the junior to be has put himself in line for his second crown.

Ayala, who won the 113 pound state title for Fort Dodge last season, going 43-0, won a Fargo title at 98 pounds in 2017.

On Monday, Ayala (113) who is ranked fourth nationally (flowrestling) defeated seventh-ranked Jeremiah Reno (ranked at 120) on criteria after a 7-7 regulation match. Ayala won the tie-break with three takedowns to two for Reno in the junior freestyle bracket.

Reno, who is going to be a senior this year is undefeated in high school and is committed to wrestle at Nebraska.

“He’s (Reno) a great competitor,” Ayala said. “I let off my attacks a little earlier than I should have.”

Ayala will now face Nico Provo, who will be a junior in Connecticut this season back here on Tuesday at 1 p.m. Provo is ranked ninth.

“It feels great to be in the finals,” Ayala said. “It will feel a lot better if I win the finals match rather than just being in the finals.”

In the quarterfinals Ayala picked up a 10-0 victory over Yusief Lillie of Washington. In his opening round match Ayala defeated Cooper Mahaffey of Oklahoma 10-0.

“I feel like I’ve been wrestling pretty good,” Ayala said. “It’s awesome and I’m surrounded by hundreds of top level athletes.”

Ayala became Fort Dodge’s 60th state championship last season with a perfect 43-0 record. He is 87-2 in his career as a Dodger.

Senior to be Carson Taylor, who won the 120 pound state championship for the Dodgers last season, finished 3-2 at 120.

Taylor won two matches by 10-0 decisions and picked up a 15-9 win for his other victory.

Fort Dodge’s Lane Cowell (1-2 at 106) and Dreyzon Phillips (2-2 at 132) were also in action at Fargo Nationals in the men’s junior freestyle competition. Both Cowell and Phillips were both state qualifiers for the Dodgers.