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Dodgers add to medal collection

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: Lane Cowell of Fort Dodge wrestles against Johnston's Rheiner Stahlbaum during a consolation semifinal in Des Moines.

DES MOINES — The Fort Dodge wrestling team extended their recent medal barrage on Saturday, as the Dodgers brought home six more from the state meet.

This is the seventh straight year the Dodgers have captured five or more medals.

The program’s streak of six straight Top-3 finishes ended as Fort Dodge took sixth with 90.5 points. Waverly-Shell Rock (154.5) was the team champion, followed by Waukee (146) and Southeast Polk (143).

“The best thing I could take out of this was simply watching my kids,” said FDSH head coach Bobby Thompson. “The chemistry through the wins and losses. The bond these guys have with the qualifiers and non-qualifiers.

“That’s what Fort Dodge wrestling is all about.”

Senior Lane Cowell (120) was fourth, freshman Dru Ayala (106) fifth, and senior Kody Cook (160) seventh. Sophomore Max Bishop (113) had to settle for eighth after a pair of injury forfeits.

Senior Drake Ayala (132) won his third straight state championship, and classmate Dreyzon Phillips (145) was a runner-up for the second straight year.

“We had some really positive moments,” Thompson said. “There are some matches that we wish we could get back. I thought we performed well, but didn’t quite get the results we wanted.”

Cowell (30-7) advanced to the 120-pound consolation final with an 11-3 major decision over Johnston’s No. 5 Rheiner Stahlbaum.

Cowell, who is 102-29 in his career, suffered a 6-2 setback to defending champion Bailey Roybal (39-3) of Waverly-SR for third.

“It means a lot to be a Dodger,” Cowell said. “Putting on that logo for the last time was emotional. I was aiming for first this year and worked my tail off for a long time for this, so I’m not really thinking about how I’ve placed three times.

“I wanted to be a champ — that’s it.”

After losing to third-ranked Chad Bellis (24-2) of Dubuque Hempstead, who was the state runner-up, Cowell won three straight matches, also knocking off No. 6 Jayce Luna (23-7) of Bettendorf.

“Lane is now a three time medalist and finished his career strong,” Thompson said. “Lane wrestled a great tournament. He lost two tough matches in a bracket with a tough draw.

“He started on JV and laid it all on the line to get better.”

In his first season on the mat, fourth-ranked Ayala (31-6) reached the semifinals at 106, losing a heartbreaker to top-ranked Carter Freeman (28-0) of Waukee.

“It was a great season,” Ayala said. “I fell a little short, but I’ll be back next year.

“It was nice to have the seniors their with me during the journey. They are great role models and helped me with everything.”

In the consolation semifinals, Ayala lost by fall to No. 2 Khyler Carstarphen (22-5) of Dowling. Ayala bounced back with a 10-3 victory over seventh-ranked Zane Behrends (32-9) of Waverly-Shell Rock, 10-3. It was Ayala’s second victory over Behrends in the tournament.

“Dru is 100 percent committed,” said Thompson, Ayala’s uncle. “He didn’t get what he wanted and he has the drive to get better. You can see it in his eyes.

“Seeing him and feeling how I do about him gets me fired up.”

Cook (27-6) won his final match of his career by medical forfeit over Trestin Sales (20-6) of Burlington.

Cook, a three-time qualifier and a two-time medalist who took sixth a year ago, finished his career with a mark of 87-48.

“Winning two medals is a big accomplishment,” Cook said. “I will cherish the memories I have on the team forever.

“Being a Dodger means fighting until the end and going out there and representing your community in any sport or activity that you are in.”

The 160-pounder had a 5-1 victory over Sean Mwangi of Waverly-Shell Rock and a 13-3 major decision past Max Derry of Dowling.

“Kody was another guy, like Lane and Dreyzon, that started wrestling (varsity) as a sophomore,” Thompson said. “He qualified as a sophomore and then wrestled lights-out as a junior.

“These seniors will be seriously missed, with 11 medals between them.”

Bishop (21-5), a state qualifier a year ago, suffered an ankle injury in the 113-pound consolations.

“I’m not feeling the best and I wanted to wrestle my match, but I just couldn’t stand on it,” Bishop said. “Building on this is just going to push me to get higher on that podium and closer to that title that’s mine.”

The fifth-ranked sophomore opened the tournament with a 16-0 tech fall over Jack Stevens of Clear Creek-Amana and had a 2-1 win over No. 6 Hunter Kalous (16-3) of Cedar Rapids Prairie in the blood round.

Bishop is 53-19 in his two seasons.

“Max showed maturity and growth. It’s good to see him get a medal,” Thompson said. “At this level, injuries happen. It will make him hungrier.”

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