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FDSH’s Ayala claims third Classic title

Taylor second, Dodgers third overall

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Drake Ayala of Fort Dodge was an individual champion at the Independence Invitational on Saturday.

COUNCIL BLUFFS — For Drake Ayala to win his third straight Council Bluffs Wrestling Classic championship, he had to go down the same road he did a year ago.

Fellow national ranked 120-pounder Joey Thompson of Totino Grace once again stood in front of the Dodger state champion. This time around Ayala didn’t have to rally for the victory.

Top-ranked Ayala (16-0) built a 5-1 lead with two takedowns and an escape and held on to claim the championship, 5-3. Last season Ayala rallied for a 5-4 victory.

“I knew it was going to be a battle and be fun,” Ayala said. “It was a little different this time around. A new year, new meet. I changed my approach a little bit, and I couldn’t really tell anything different he did.”

During the tournament, Ayala earned eight victories and scored 69 team points for the Dodgers. He had four falls, three in the first period, two tech falls, a major decision and a decision in the finals. He was also named Outstanding Wrestler of the Meet for the second year in a row.

“That was awesome for them to pick me for the award again,” Ayala said. “It’s cool (to win tournament for the third time), but I know there are bigger things ahead to accomplish.”

In the semifinal round Ayala dominated third-ranked and previously-unbeaten Thurman Christensen of Waukee. He picked up a 22-7 tech fall in 3:52. In the quarterfinals, he knocked off Reid Stracke of Nebraska City with a fall in 2:54.

“Drake was very dominant and the score was a lot closer than it was,” said Fort Dodge head coach Bobby Thompson. “Drake wrestled really well and just had an outstanding tournament.”

Second-ranked senior Carson Taylor (13-1) suffered his first loss of the season in a hard fought contest with Keegan Slyter of Olathe North in the 126 pound final. Slyter, a two-time Kansas state champion and Arkansas Little Rock recruit picked up a 6-4 overtime victory.

In the semifinals, Taylor, who is 95-16 in his career, beat third-ranked Beau Klingensmith of Woodbury Central 5-3. Taylor earned an 8-6 decision over Ayden Dolt of Liberty in the quarterfinals. Taylor, a Grand View signee, had six victories in the tournament, four by fall, three in the first period.

“Carson lost to a nationally ranked All-American,” Thompson said. “I thought we out-wrestled him. If we wrestle that match in February — I don’t think it’s close.”

Entering the day, the Dodgers had six quarterfinalists. Ninth-ranked senior Austin Lee (182) and fourth-ranked senior Levi Egli (195) joined Ayala and Taylor in the semifinal round. Egli placed third, while Lee was fourth.

In the team race, the Dodgers, who are ranked 43rd in the nation, jumped up eight spots from 11th to 3rd. Fort Dodge accumulated 468 points. No. 30 Millard South (480.5) was the runner up and 26th-ranked Liberty won the team title with 565.5 points and three champions. Millard South had two champions. Fort Dodge went 9-5 in placement matches.

“I thought we had a good round to finish up the tournament,” Thompson said. “I thought we could close the gap on (Millard) South, but they won a couple of matches I didn’t think they would and there was a couple we could have won.”

Egli (12-3) suffered a tight 3-2 loss to unbeaten Tony Pray of Creighton Prep in the semifinals. He bounced back with a pin (1:54) over Gus Davis of Gardner-Edgerton in the third-place match. Egli stuck Daylon Keolavone of Grand Island (1:22) in the quarterfinals. He finished the tournament with five victories, four by fall.

After a fall over Creighton Prep’s Joey Glogowski (3:07) in the quarterfinals, Lee finished with two tough matches. He lost to unbeaten Greyden Penner of Liberty by fall in the semifinals and fell in a 5-2 decision to Blake Joret of Olathe South in the third place match. Lee had four victories, all by fall in the first period.

“Levi is getting better each time out,” Thompson said. “He is gaining his confidence and taking his shots. He’s never satisfied.

“Austin had a good tournament and lost to a nationally ranked opponent.”

Freshman Max Bishop (11-4), junior Lane Cowell (12-3) and senior Brooks Cowell (13-3) all finished fifth for the Dodgers.

Bishop lost in the championship first round and then reeled off four straight victories with a fall, major decision and two decisions at 106 pounds.

After losing his quarterfinal match to Brandon Baustert of Lincoln East 3-1, Lane Cowell (113) picked up a major decision and a decision. In the fifth place match, he edged Liberty’s Easton Hilton 6-5. Bishop and Lane Cowell had six and seven wins in the tournament respectively.

In the 132 pound fifth place match, Brooks Cowell earned a 9-2 decision over Triston Zuniga of Totino-Grace for his sixth win of the two-day tournament. Cowell lost by fall to unbeaten Kyle Dutton of Liberty in the quarterfinals. He bounced back with two decisions before the victory over Zuniga.

Junior Dreyzon Phillips (14-4) grabbed a seventh place showing after defeating Hank Frost of Blair 7-2, for his sixth win of the tournament. Phillips (138) beat Brody Arrants of Grand Island 4-1 and lost by fall to Dallas Koelzer of Olathe South in the consolation third round.

Senior Brandon Mills (11-5) ended the tournament with a ninth place showing. Mills won the ninth place match by medical forfeit, his fourth of the tourney. He lost in the second round of consolations, but bounced back with a 6-4 decision over Tanner Higgins of Lewis Central.

Junior Kody Cook (6-3) was ninth at 152 pounds. He lost his second round consolation match, but came back with a second period fall, pinning Millard South’s Blake Smith (5:09) for ninth place and his fifth tournament win.

“Max getting fifth was huge. He lost to kids that finished second and third and one that is in the national rankings,” Thompson said. “Lane, Brooks, Dreyzon and Kody came through with good tournaments as well.

“It’s a tough tournament and it’s important to get that type of placing.”

Senior Savion Wheat (6-9) placed 15th with two wins at 160 pounds. Junior Sawyer Springer (9-6) picked up four wins for 18th at 220. Senior Colten Munter (5-9) placed 20th after two victories at 285. Junior Dylan Zimmermann (6-3) had five victories and was 21st at 170.

The No. 3 Dodgers are back in action on Thursday when they host second-ranked Southeast Polk in the Dodger gym. Action will begin at approximately 7:30 p.m.