Timeout with Duke Egli

Duke Egli knew sooner or later this season, he was probably going to meet Dylan Blackford — a wrestler he’d faced for the past six years, but never beaten.

Blackford, a Southeast Polk standout, was undefeated ranked ahead of Egli in the 170-pound weight class.

Not anymore.

Egli, who was rated second at the time, jumped over Blackford after a thrilling and tense CIML Conference final last week.

The Dodger senior fought to a 1-1 tie through regulation to force overtime, and in the final period Egli’s condition took center stage as he recorded a takedown to pull off the upset.

“I felt confident I could beat him,” Egli said. “Through positive self talk and my coaches preparations I did it.

“Heading into the third period I was waiting for an opportunity. I saw it and I made the move.”

The two senior wrestlers have competed against each other throughout high school and even in AAU tournaments, but Egli hadn’t been able to taste victory.

“It felt great (to beat Blackford),” Egli said. “I’ve been wrestling him for six years and I’ve never beaten him. We’ve had some close matches and he’s beaten me pretty good a couple of times.

“Now I have to beat him at state.”

It has been a strong run for Egli, who has surpassed even his own expectations, on his way to a 34-0 record and 104 career victories.

“Coming into the season, being my senior year I wanted to be at the top of my game,” Egli said. “I’m excited to see how much improvement I’ve made.

“I’m kind of surprised of how it’s going. I’ve been winning matches and just kept going.”

Egli still has some unfinished business to take care of, after finishing eighth last season, he’s ready to step up on the podium.

“My coaches have helped me a lot with encouragement,” Egli said. “Pat Rial opened the weight room all summer and that has helped me with conditioning.

“My coaches and teammates have backed me and taught me a lot.”

Egli will continue his quest for another state medal as the Dodgers host a Class 3A district meet on Saturday at noon.

After his senior season is complete, Egli plans on to continue wrestling, but is undecided of where he will attend school.