Four FD Stags make all-state rugby team

Adams, Elias, Pederson and Egli recognized from state runner-ups

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: Fort Dodge senior Ty Adams was named a first team all-state rugby player for the 2024 season.

Conventional wisdom said this would be a rebuilding year for Fort Dodge on the rugby pitch.

Thanks to the efforts of a number of emerging talents, the Stags didn’t skip a beat.

Four players — senior Ty Adams, juniors Carlos Elias and Gavin Pederson and sophomore Jesse Egli — recently made the Iowa Youth Rugby Association all-state honor roll. Adams was a first team selection; Elias and Pederson were on the second squad. Egli was an honorable mention choice.

Fort Dodge had its best-ever state finish earlier this month, reaching the finals before bowing out to unbeaten Cedar Falls. It was the second consecutive year the Stags returned home from the IYRA championships with a team trophy, as they took third in 2023.

There were nine seniors on last season’s club, including three — Connor Carver, Keaton Nichols and Orion Larson-Trott — all-staters. Head coach Tom McClimon and his staff molded this group into an instant contender, though, as Fort Dodge reeled off 13 consecutive victories and made it all the way to the gold-medal match before bowing out.

“It just says a lot about the character and toughness of these kids,” McClimon said. “We weren’t entirely sure what we had (earlier in the spring), given we had so many roles and positions up for grabs. But our seniors, and everyone else, embraced the leadership opportunities in front of them.

“It’s the difference between having a good team and a real program — being able to graduate strong seniors without dropping off. I think it speaks to the health of and commitment level in our program.”

Adams flourished in his final season. The Wisconsin-Oshkosh football recuit had a team-best 11 tries to go along with 30 tackles and a pair of assists.

“Ty stepped up in a big way. He filled the shoes (of the 2023 seniors) and then some,” McClimon said. “I could see the potential in him making a jump, but to be first team all-state is an incredible accomplishment.

“He’s athletic, fast, long, and he really wanted it. He was like a sponge (in just his second season on the pitch). I think Ty fell in love with the sport. Just a solid all-around player.”

Elias recorded four tries and 17 tackles, while ranking among the best in the state with 30 conversions.

“Carlos was on the junior varsity squad as a freshman and into his sophomore year,” McClimon said. “We needed him to take a huge leap as a junior scrum half, and he did.

“He has a great foot, and is outstanding on restarts. It was awesome to see him flourish and set himself up for a big senior year.”

Pederson showed his strength and versatility with seven tries, 11 tackles and six assists this spring.

“Gavin became an absolute force in the middle of the field,” McClimon said. “He just shows up every day with a no-nonsense approach and goes to work.

“He was in for probably 80 percent of every match. He’s great in the scrum and is a terrific leader. He transformed his body and used it to his advantage, being very physical and setting the tone for us.”

Egli landed an all-state spot as an underclassman with 10 tries, 24 tackles and two assists.

“Another tough, physical kid,” McClimon said. “Like Gavin, he’s out there for us almost start to finish. He’s so versatile, great defensively and a sure tackler.

“It was fun to see Jesse progress, and his best rugby is yet to come.”

McClimon sees “more and more guys falling in love with the grind.”

“They’re buying in,” McClimon said. “Our goal from day one (six years ago) was to be an annual title contender. We’re getting closer to reaching that, with two straight Top-3 finishes.

“We have high aspirations, and the kids are really understanding what it takes to get there. The future of Stags rugby continues to be bright.”


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