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THE STAGE IS SET

Fort Dodge senior champ Ayala gets rematch with Block at 132

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: Drake Ayala of Fort Dodge controls his state semifinal match against Bryce Parke of Marion Linn-Mar on Friday night in Des Moines. Ayala won, 22-8, to reach the 132-pound finals. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

DES MOINES — Drake Ayala doesn’t feed into the hype of what’s on tap in the future.

The Fort Dodge senior just wants to keep living in the moment.

Ayala dominated second-ranked Bryce Parke in his 132-pound semifinal on Friday night inside Wells Fargo Arena, earning a 22-8 major decision to clinch a state finals berth for the fourth consecutive year.

Against Parke, Ayala recorded seven takedowns, three nearfall points and a reversal.

“It was a good match,” Ayala said. “Not every match is going to be a blowout in the first period. I just waited to break him and it started in the second.”

Ayala (34-1) defeated sixth-ranked Grant Harbour of Norwalk by fall in 2:45 in his quarterfinal match earlier on Friday.

“I don’t think Drake necessarily wrestled his best match,” said Fort Dodge head coach Bobby Thompson. “He was fighting nerves and emotions of his brother’s loss (in the semifinals). I know he was distracted and thinking about Dru.

“I give him a lot of credit to be able to get the job done. People who wrestle understand the stress that goes along with competing alongside with your siblings.”

With the two victories, Ayala tied Triston Lara as third on Fort Dodge’s all-time win list. Lara was 170-12 and Ayala is now 170-3.

Through three matches at state, Ayala has 24 takedowns, eight nearfall points and a reversal.

“I’m trying not to think about it being my last match (as a Dodger on Saturday),” said Ayala, a University of Iowa recruit. “Everything is going to be my last. I’m just excited for it, and then, the future.”

The highly-anticipated showdown with top-ranked Go-Hawk Ryder Block is now set. Block ended Ayala’s win streak of 109 consecutive victories with a 9-7 victory in Waverly during the regular season.

Now, Ayala — who moved from 126 to 132 pounds for the postseason — will be out to try and settle the score.

“To me it’s just another match,” said Ayala, the nation’s top-ranked 126-pounder. “People say this and that. It’s just noise.

“I’m just going to go out there, wrestle my match and control what I can.”

The Class 3A medal round begins at 10 a.m. inside Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday. Finals begin at 6 p.m.

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