9 DODGERS STAY IN THE HUNT
Seven reach quarterfinals; FDSH in 3rd
DES MOINES — The Fort Dodge wrestling team has laid the groundwork for a strong run to the medal stand again this season.
Seven Dodgers advanced to the quarterfinals on Thursday, and nine of the 11 qualifiers are still in contention after the opening day of Class 3A action at the state tournament.
Third-ranked Fort Dodge sits in third place with 27 points. No. 2 Waverly-Shell Rock (33) is narrowly ahead of top-rated Southeast Polk (32) at the top. The Go-Hawks have nine on the championship side and one in wrestlebacks, while eight Rams are in the quarterfinals and four more in consolations.
“(Friday) is money day,” said Fort Dodge head coach Bobby Thompson. “It’s the blood round; everyone needs one more win to medal, and we are looking to keep all nine guys alive.
“It’s going to be a dogfight (from here on out), and we want to bring the pound.”
Seventh-ranked junior Lane Cowell (113), defending state champions Drake Ayala (120) and Carson Taylor (126), sixth-ranked Brooks Cowell (132), No. 2 junior Dreyzon Phillips (138), eighth-ranked senior Brandon Mills (145) and second-rated Levi Egli (195) all advanced to the quarterfinals.
Fort Dodge picked up much-needed bonus points with four falls and two technical falls on the front side. W-SR had seven pins, and Southeast Polk registered four falls on the front side.
Freshman Max Bishop (106) and junior Kody Cook (152) lost their first-round matches, but stayed alive with consolation victories.
“Bonus points are always huge,” Thompson said. “(Friday) will be a big day for bonus points, given we have two rounds. Staying on the front side will be a key component.”
Thompson was pleased with the victories, but was disappointed to see two Dodgers knocked out of the event. Fort Dodge’s 10th-ranked senior, Austin Lee, (182) lost both of his matches, as did freshman Tucker Pederson (170).
“It was a positive day, but it was tough losing Austin and Tucker,” Thompson said. “Austin Lee has given us everything he’s had. He’s a true Dodger. Tucker is just getting started. Tucker is a 145-pound guy that moved up three weights and went toe-to-toe with the top-ranked wrestler in the state (Logan Neils of Ankeny Centennial).”
The Dodgers, who have won five straight trophies at traditional state, are looking to come home with another one after earning bronze last year and gold in 2018.
“They talk about it all the time,” Thompson said. “We definitely want to fight for a team trophy. It’s huge to think about everyone what everyone has meant to this team. Guys from state duals (Savion Wheat, Sawyer Springer and Colten Munter) have put in a lot of work for this team as well, and we’re glad they’re with us, too.
“Tucker and Austin are out, but made great contributions all season long. This team is very close, and it shows.”
Ayala (45-0) and Taylor (37-3) earned technical falls in their opening-round contests. Ayala beat Donovan Card of Norwalk 20-5 in 3:16. The nation’s top-ranked 120-pounder will now face Ankeny’s Cael Cox (27-9).
Taylor’s tech came in 5:41 (17-2) over Ankeny Centennial’s Jackson Helmkamp, who is the son of the late Brent Helmkamp, a Fort Dodge graduate. In the quarterfinals, Taylor, a junior, will face Johnston’s seventh-ranked Thomas Edwards (25-4).
“Drake will have a tough kid from Norwalk,” Thompson said. “Drake has been bringing this team together and stressing bonus points. He’s showing great leadership.
“It was good to get bonus points out of Carson as well. Drake and Carson are team leaders. Everyone just needs to keep taking it one match at a time.”
Senior Brooks Cowell (30-8) and Phillips (39-7) both had ranked opponents and earned falls. Cowell pinned 10th-ranked Carson Murray of Dowling (3:33), and Phillips stuck No. 10 Kasey Ross of Urbandale (2:35).
Next up for Cowell is third-ranked Brock Esqalin (29-1) of Des Moines East in the 132-pound quarterfinal. Phillips will square off with Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Ashtin Faick (13-2).
“Brooks is peeking for sure,” Thompson said. “He has been wrestling real well and will face a kid we haven’t seen.
“Dreyzon is living a wrestler’s lifestyle. He has high goals and knows what he wants.”
Egli (24-3) picked up a fall over Western Dubuque’s Sawyer Nauman (2:45) at 195 in his first match at the state tournament since 2018, when he placed fifth.
Now Egli will compete against seventh-rated Collin Bohnenkamp (32-5) of Cedar Falls. The Dodgers took down the Tigers in a Class 3A regional dual, but the Dodger senior never faced Bohnenkamp.
“Levi is on another level right now,” Thompson said. “He has a tough opponent in the quarters. It will be a competitive match.”
In his first state tournament, Mills (33-11), a senior, pinned Linn-Mar’s Hiaru Carolin in 3:56 for his first traditional triumph after earning three wins at state duals the night before.
A familiar opponent will be in front of Mills in the 145-pound quarterfinal as he is set to face University of Iowa recruit Colby Schriever (13-4). Mills pinned 3A’s second-ranked wrestler in the district final.
“It’s hard to beat somebody twice in less than a week, but Brandon is up to the challenge,” Thompson said. “Brandon doesn’t get into the rankings and doesn’t care who he wrestles. He’s not worrying about anything other than himself.”
Lane Cowell (33-12) picked up a tight 6-2 victory over Johnston’s Rheiner Stahlbaum. Cowell will now face No. 3 Blaine Frazier (48-1) of Burlington-Notre Dame.
“Lane wrestled tough and looked solid,” Thompson said. “Frazier is talented, but Lane is on a mission.”
Bishop (32-12) lost by technical fall to second-ranked Brandon O’Brien (19-1) of Linn-Mar at 106. In his consolation matchup, he defeated Blake Cioimo of Cedar Rapids Prairie, 6-3.
Bishop will face the loser of the match between Johnston’s fifth-ranked Owen Helgeson and Bettendorf’s No. 6 Dustin Bohren.
Cook (24-14), a returning state qualifier, suffered a tight 6-3 decision to sixth-ranked Ethan Vetterick (33-2) of Norwalk at 152. The junior then beat Dubuque Hempstead’s Ben Faber 5-2 in the consolation round.
Cook’s next opponent will be the loser of top-ranked Eli Lloyd and ninth-ranked Brennan Meacham of Indianola.
In his first state match, Pederson (12-9) fought to a scoreless first period with the unbeaten Neils (40-0) before losing by fall in 5:33. He then fell to Waukee’s Tanner Spyksma, 5-3.
Pederson lost to Spyksma 7-4 at state duals.
Lee (27-20) lost by fall to seventh-ranked Taner Harvey of Boone (5:41), and then was pinned by Jackson Brinker of Johnston in 40 seconds.
Quarterfinal action begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, with semifinals starting at 2:30 p.m. inside Wells Fargo Arena.
113 pounds — No. 7 Lane Cowell (33-10) vs. No. 3 Blaine Frazier (48-1), Burlington-Notre Dame
120 pounds — No. 1 Drake Ayala (45-0) vs. Cael Cox (27-9), Ankeny
126 pounds — No. 2 Chris Taylor (37-3) vs. No. 7 Thomas Edwards (25-4), Johnston
132 pounds — No. 6 Brooks Cowell (31-7) vs. No. 3 Brock Esqalin, (29-1), Des Moines East
138 pounds — No. 2 Dreyzon Phillips (39-7) vs. Ashtin Faick (13-2), CRK
145 pounds — No. 8 Brandon Mills (33-11) vs. No. 2 Colby Schriever, (13-4), Mason City
195 pounds — No. 2 Levi Egli (24-3) vs. No. 7 Collin Bohnenkamp, (32-5), Cedar Falls
106 pounds — Max Bishop (32-12) vs. TBD
152 pounds — Kody Cook (25-14) vs. TBD