Dodgers advance five to state
Fort Dodge sophomore Erik Birnbaum let out a huge sigh of relief on the wrestling mat here on Saturday.
Thanks to his 13-0 victory over Josef Rogers of Denison-Schleswig, the 10th-ranked Dodger had earned a spot in the state wrestling tournament, capturing the 106-pound title at a Class 3A district meet inside the FDSH gym.
Birnbaum will be joined by teammates Cole Detmering, Kole Evans, Duke Egli and Riley Prescott next week in Des Moines at state.
Egli, the top-ranked wrestler at 170 pounds, and Prescott, rated ninth at 195, also earned titles. Determing (113 pounds) and Evans (120) secured runner-up finishes and berths after winning wrestleback matches.
Fort Dodge finished atop the team standings, earning the district title. Mason City was second, followed by Algona, Webster City, Boone, Storm Lake, Carroll and Denison-Schleswig.
For Birnbaum, the opportunity to attend the state meet is nothing new, as he did while his father, Ed, was the head coach at FDSH. His brother, Matt, was a state qualifier while wearing the Dodger singlet.
“It’s a great sense of relief,” said Birnbaum, who improved to 35-6 on the year. “It’s way better to be going as a competitor than anything else. I know (106) is a very stacked weight class, but everybody is 0-0 right now.”
Egli, an eighth place finisher as a junior a year ago, and Prescott are both returning qualifiers. Egli, who made a statement last week when he captured the CIML Invitational title over nationally-ranked Dylan Blackford of Southeast Polk, earned two falls and a major decision on his way to the district title.
In the finals, Egli (37-0) defeated No. 7 Joe Teague of Algona, 11-2. Teague took him down to start the match, but Egli had little trouble getting back on track and cruising into state.
“I just want to stay focused on the ultimate goal: a state title,” Egli said. “I know being ranked No. 1 comes with a target, but it doesn’t mean anything.
“Personally, I prefer the role of the underdog when I step out on the mat.”
Prescott (28-14) earned a thrilling 4-2 overtime victory over Garrett Johnson of Algona in the finals. Down 1-0 with seconds left, Prescott shot in and scored a takedown. Johnson was able to earn an escape, but the Dodger had little trouble getting his opponent down to the mat in the extra session.
“I knew that I had earned a state berth (because of the result in the third place match), but it’s a big difference going to state as a district champ compared to as a runner-up,” Prescott said. “I felt like I could take him down late in the match because of my conditioning, and when I saw the opening (in the third), I went for it.
“I didn’t know until Friday that I would be possibly facing (Johnson) because he bumped up to 182, but I just stayed focused on what I needed to do on the mat.”
The day was filled with mixed emotions for Dodger head coach Bobby Thompson, as senior captains Matt Osborne and Kyle Johnson were unable to reach state. Osborne (12-20) lost in a true-second match, 3-2, at the hands of Algona’s Austin Long, while Johnson (32-11) was not allowed to compete in a wrestleback after falling in the semis to Gavin Dinsdale from Webster City, 4-1.
“You just feel for Kyle and Matt,” Thompson said. “It’s always tough when you don’t make it to state, but it is especially difficult for seniors. Those two were great captains all year, especially with all of our youth. They will be greatly missed.”
Osborne (145), freshmen Jonah Egli (138) and Sam Cook (182), and Johnson (220) placed third, while Cory Alexander (132) finished fourth. Kole Kampen (152) earned fifth place honors, Logan Huebsch (126), Cameron Archibald (160) and Carlos Rocha (285) settled for sixth.
“You hope that the disappointment for the kids that didn’t make it will fuel their fire in the offseason,” Thompson said. “We made some great strides this year as a team, but I feel like we did not perform to the best of our abilities (Saturday).”
The Lynx moved five wrestlers to state, including district champions Jake Powers, Connor Larson, Dylan Fielder and Landon Johnson.
Gavin Dinsdale scored a second to advance as a runner-up for Webster City.
Powers (30-10) earned a 10-8 overtime decision against Austin Long from Algona to claim the 145-pound title.
In a battle of ranked wrestlers at 160, Larson (33-5) pinned Andrew Bartel from Mason City with a second remaining in the first round. Larson is rated third, while Bartel is fifth. The weight class also featured No. 7 Kane Springis from Boone, who earned third.
The third-ranked Fielder (36-2) cruised through the 182-pound division, scoring two pins and a decision victory over Tyler Frideres of Algona in the finals. The junior placed sixth last year at state.
Johnson (32-8) claimed the heavyweight title with two falls and a decision, as well.
Dinsadale (14-9) lost in the finals at 220, but secured the state berth thanks to a previous win in the semifinals.
Despite being one of the smallest 3A schools in the state, the Bulldogs qualified seven wrestlers Saturday.
Jacob Adams and Korey Kuecker each earned district titles, while Austin Long, Weston Shaw, Joe Teague, Tyler Frideres and Garrett Johnson captured runner-up spots.
Adams improved to 27-5 on the year with a fall over Ronald Duque from Storm Lake at 4:50 in their 126-pound match.
Kuecker (35-3) earned two falls and a major decision on his way to the 138-pound title. In the finals, the junior topped Will Siglin of Mason City, 15-3.
Long (145), Shaw (152) and Johnson (195) earned had to earn wins in true-seconds to secure their spots. Teague (170) and Frideres (182) advanced thanks to their wins prior in the tournament.