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Fort Dodge wins Clear Lake Invite

CLEAR LAKE — The Clear Lake Invitational may not have featured the heavy hitters No. 3 (Class 3A) Fort Dodge wrestling team is used to seeing at tournaments this year, but the Dodgers still got plenty out of their trip north on Saturday with a big week looming ahead.

Seeing their first action since before Christmas, head coach Bobby Thompson’s squad captured their first championship of the season in resounding fashion. Fort Dodge racked up nine individual gold medals and 296 points — well ahead of runner-up Charles City (164.5) and third-place Emmetsburg (160.5).

The Dodgers swept through every weight from 106 through 152 pounds, going a combined 32-0. Freshman Max Bishop (106), sixth-ranked senior Brandon Mills (145) and No. 10 junior Kody Cook (152) all clinched titles for the first time this season, while junior Lane Cowell (No. 7 at 113), junior Drake Ayala (No. 1 at 120), senior Carson Taylor (No. 2 at 126), senior Brooks Cowell (No. 7 at 132), junior Dreyzon Phillips (No. 3 at 138) and senior Levi Egli (No. 2 at 195) continued their winning ways by taking their respective brackets as well.

“I think we looked pretty solid from top to bottom,” Thompson said. “We’ve had a long layoff since before Christmas, so we needed to get back on the mat. And even though we didn’t see quite the level of competition we’re used to, it’s always good to build some confidence and momentum.”

Lane Cowell (18-3), Phillips (20-4) and Egli (17-3) all defeated ranked opponents in the finals. Taylor (pin), Phillips (pin), Ayala (technical fall) and Brooks Cowell (major decision) all racked up bonus points in the championship round.

“I thought Dreyzon wrestled really well. He dominated the No. 1 seed,” Thompson said. “Brooks was outstanding. Levi took care of a Creston (Orient-Maxburg) kid who was tough (Egli prevailed 3-0 over No. 5 2A Sam Chapman).

“Lane, Drake (23-0) and Carson (21-1) did what was expected of them, which you don’t want to take for granted but have kind of come to expect. And it was great seeing Max (15-6), Brandon (17-6) and Kody (12-4) get their hands raised at the end. They’ve been working hard and deserved it given what they’ve faced so far this year.”

Senior Savion Wheat (9-11) reached the finals at 160 before settling for second. Juniors Dylan Zimmermann (7-5 at 170) and Sawyer Springer (12-11 at 220) both took fourth, and senior Austin Lee (14-8 at 182) was fifth.

Fort Dodge heads to Waukee on Thursday, before heading to Chicago for the “Beat The Streets” dual tournament on Saturday. Ranked 43rd in the nation, the Dodgers will actually be one of the lowest-rated programs to participate in the event, which will include No. 5 Montini Catholic (Ill.), No. 6 Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), No. 8 Bergen Catholic (N.J.), No. 12 Tuttle (Okla.), No. 26 Broken Arrow (Okla.) and No. 27 Liberty (Mo.).

“It’s going to be an eye-opening experience for us,” Thompson said of the upcoming event. “I told the kids to enjoy (Saturday), get a little rest, and then we’re going to see a whole new level. It’s going to be something else.

“We can’t be focused as much on the wins and losses. It’s not as much about the results as the process of challenging ourselves and getting better by facing some of the best programs in the country.”

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