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Ayala will be a Hawkeye

Dodgers' junior superstar to continue his wrestling career at the University of Iowa

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Fort Dodge's Drake Ayala reacts to winning his second consecutive state wrestling championship at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines last month.

Fort Dodge’s Drake Ayala has made up his mind: the junior state wrestling champion will attend the University of Iowa.

Ayala officially informed UI head coach Tom Brands of his decision on Wednesday, picking the Hawkeyes over Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa State, North Carolina, Minnesota and a host of other schools.

The nation’s top-ranked 120-pounder, Ayala has developed into the most sought-after prep recruit from Iowa in almost a decade. He went 48-0 this past season, and last Saturday, secured the Dan Gable Mr. Wrestler of the Year award as the top competitor in Class 3A.

Ayala, the son of Fort Dodge’s Sam and Angie Ayala, has won 91 consecutive high school matches. He is 136-2 in his prep career.

Ayala became just the eighth Dodger in school history to repeat as a state champion last month.

“He’s just on an entirely different level compared to the rest of this state at his weight, and really, the entire country,” FDSH head coach Bobby Thompson said of Ayala after the state tournament. “Drake is more than a rare breed. He’s one of a kind. The talent, the work ethic, the motivation, the student he is in the classroom, the way he represents Fort Dodge away from (the mat)…it’s just the whole package.

“This didn’t just fall into Drake’s lap, though. People read about him, hear things, watch it happen, but they really have no idea how committed he is to his craft behind the scenes. He’s made sacrifices and commitments that most 16- or 17-year-old kids simply aren’t interested in making. He put in the effort (growing up) to make it seem effortless today.”

Ayala is also an academic all-state honoree who carries a 3.94 overall grade point average. The consensus Top-15 national recruit from the class of 2021 is a two-time Fargo Nationals champion, a USA Wrestling Folkstyle gold medalist, and a Super 32 Challenge national runner-up.

Complete coverage from Ayala’s decision will be in Thursday’s Messenger.

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