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Dodgers host Miller Invitational

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Dru Ayala of Fort Dodge wrestles against Sioux City East Danny Cleveland in the Championship during 3A Districts on Saturday in Fort Dodge

The third-ranked Fort Dodge wrestling team is nearing the end of the first part of their season.

With two more stops in 2023, the Dodgers will wrap up their home portion of their schedule with the 49th annual Don Miller Invitational.

The Dodgers will be joined by Messenger-area schools Humboldt, Webster City and Algona.

Also in attendance will be Ankeny Centennial, Bishop Heelan, Decorah, Des Moines Roosevelt, Forest City, Lewis Central, Mason City, Sioux Center, Sioux City East, and Western Christian.

“Ankeny Centennial, Algona and Humboldt have pretty strong teams and are pretty balanced,” said Fort Dodge head coach Bobby Thompson. “It’s going to come down to who has the most balanced team.”

Action will begin at 10 a.m. with the finals starting at approximately 4 p.m. in the Dodger gym.

“It’s always great to wrestle at home before Christmas Break,” Thompson said. “We will have a good crowd and we get the chance to pay tribute to Don Miller.

“It’s a well balanced field from 3A, 2A and 1A.”

The Dodgers are coming off a second place finish at the Council Bluffs Classic, where Koy Davidson (138) and Dreshaun Ross (215) were crowned champions.

Dru Ayala (120) was second, Damarion Ross (190) was third and Kane Butrick (132) placed fourth.

Fort Dodge claimed the team championship a year ago with 233 points. Dowling (167) was second, Ankeny Centennial (166) was third and Humboldt (143) placed fourth.

Last season Ayala, 11th-ranked (according to IAwrestle) senior Butrick, Damarion and Dreshaun Ross all won titles.

Rylee Brown (144) and Jesse Egli (157) were both third and second-ranked senior Cal Hartman was fourth.

Second-ranked seniors Ayala (14-1) and Damarion Ross (13-2) will be competing for their third Miller Invite titles. Ayala and Ross were second and fifth respectively as freshman.

Ross, who is the top-ranked 215-pounder as a defending state champion, is 16-0 to start the season for the Dodgers.

Butrick (13-4), Davidson (ranked third at 14-0), Brown (11-6), Hartman (14-3) and Luke Fierke (13-4) all have double digit wins on the season.

The competition at 175 pounds will be steep with Hartman (ranked second at 190), top-ranked senior Jace Nelson-Brown of Emmetsburg and top-ranked Humboldt freshman Broedy Hendricks, who is moving up a weight.

“175 pounds is going to be really tough,” Thompson said. “Cal will be the third seed with top-ranked Nelson-Brown from Emmetsburg (1A) and Broedy Hendricks from Humboldt (2A).”

Humboldt’s ranked wrestlers are Tyce Clarken (No. 7 at 120), Cyler Cirks (No. 7 at 126), and Gaige Allen (No. 3 at 190) to go along with Hendricks.

Entering ranked for Webster City is Linden Phetxoumphone (No. 2 at 113), Carson Doolittle (No. 3 at 126).

Algona has Isaac Wilson (No. 11 at 126), Barret Morgan (No. 10 at 132), Ashton Moreno (No. 2 at 144), Tate Slagle (No. 3 at 150), and Taevyn Zinnel (No. 7 at 157).

Also ranked for Emmetsburg is No. 7 Justin Wirtz (165), No. 10 Ryan Wirtz (190) and No. 4 Gage Jorgenson (285).

“We are looking for consistency and to wrestle hard,” Thompson said. “We want to make some gains from last Tuesday.

“This is a two-part season and after Christmas Break it goes fast, so we have to use this and next weekend as measuring sticks and then clean up some things.”

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