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SILVER LINING

Phillips grateful despite frustrations of being repeat runner-up

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: Fort Dodge's Dreyzon Phillips squares off with Joel Jesuroga on Saturday night in Des Moines for the 145-pound title in Class 3A. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

DES MOINES — A day after coming up short in the state finals for the second consecutive season, senior Dreyzon Phillips found perspective on what he accomplished and his career as a Dodger.

“I’m heartbroken that I’ll never be state champ,” Phillips said. “But I’m blessed to have the support and love from my family, friends and coaches.

“Being a Dodger is more than I can describe in words. I’m just thankful.”

The third-ranked senior came up short in his ultimate goal of being a state champion, losing to top-rated Joel Jesuroga (27-0) of Southeast Polk at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday night.

With the score tied at 1-1 late, Phillips attempted a takedown. Jesuroga stepped through for a takedown of his own, though, and scored near-fall points to capture the 145-pound crown.

“Looking back at my career, I wouldn’t change a thing,” Phillips said. “That’s what’s so special about not only this sport, but life itself. It gives you obstacles that you have to overcome to be better and grow as a person.”

Phillips (27-5) finishes his Fort Dodge career with 97 victories and three state tournament appearances, following a year of junior varsity wrestling as a freshman. The Iowa Central recruit defeated previously-unbeaten Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Christian Stanek in the semifinals to become just the 25th wrestler in the 100-year history of the Dodger program to reach the championship round more than once.

In his two state finals appearances, Phillips has competed against two of the best in the state. Jesuroga, only a junior, is a three-time qualifier who earned a fourth-place medal in 2020.

“Dreyzon is the epitome of our program,” said FDSH head coach Bobby Thompson. “He is the type of wrestler that everyone wants to have on their side.

“Dreyzon started his high school career on JV. He got focused and set goals. He got better every day and lived the wrestling lifestyle. He’s what Fort Dodge wrestling is all about, and that’s a tribute to him.”

In his junior season, Phillips lost to future University of Iowa wrestler Caleb Rathjen in the championship round. The Ankeny senior was a two-time state champ and four-time finalist.

“Dreyzon had a great career at Fort Dodge,” Thompson said. “He is a two-time finalist, and will be a great college wrestler.

“His future is a lot brighter than high school wrestling. He didn’t quite get what he wanted or what he trained for. He can’t get that match back, but he’ll be ready to wash it and move on soon.”

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