Dodgers host districts

Twenty-eight bids to the state wrestling tournament will be punched here Saturday, as Fort Dodge hosts a Class 3A district meet.

Action begins at noon inside the FDSH gym.

Joining the Dodgers will be Boone, Carroll, LeMars, Mason City, Spencer, Storm Lake and third-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock.

The top two finishers in each of the 14 weight classes will advance to next week’s state meet in Des Moines at Wells Fargo Arena.

Fort Dodge head coach Bobby Thompson knows his squad is in for a fight to secure as many of those qualifying slots as possible.

“It’s going to be a tough day of wrestling, but I think it will be a good day,” Thompson said. “Anybody that we can get through, they are going to have a great shot at placing (at state) after coming out of this caliber of district.”

The Go-Hawks, who already qualified for state duals, feature seven ranked individuals, including No. 1s Bryce Steiert and Kaleb Staack. Justin Reiher, Spencer Derifield, Corey Abernathy, Izaak Miller and Thomas Foy are all rated wrestlers, as well.

Last year, Waverly-Shell Rock finished fourth overall at state. Derifield is a returning state champion, while Steiert was a runner-up. Staack finished fifth and Abernathy took eighth.

“Waverly-Shell Rock is definitely the favorite, as they are ranked in the nation and are one of the best teams in the state,” Thompson said. “But everybody is 0-0 at this point in the year and we have to compete with that kind of attitude, regardless if you are a ranked kid or somebody with a low seed.”

Thompson has worked with a mix of young and old all season. Erik Birnbaum, ranked eighth at 113 pounds, finished eighth at state a year ago and is currently 35-5.

Riley Prescott, who has moved in and out of the Top-10 all season, returns after taking eighth last year, as well. Cole Detmering and Kole Evans are also unranked Dodger who advanced to state last winter.

Fourth-rated Triston Lara has experienced an exceptional freshman campaign and has competed on the big stage several times before entering high school. Lara sports a 38-3 record, which puts him in elite company in the history of Fort Dodge wrestling.

Sam Cook, ranked fifth at 182, is also looking to continue his sophomore season into next week.

“Our guys are battled tested after the schedule we ran them through,” Thompson said. “You have guys like Triston, Erik, Sam and Riley who have over 40 matches already and we haven’t even gotten to the state meet yet.

“I remember when I was a freshman and qualified for state. I had 32 matches and that was almost unheard of at that time.”

Mason City is paced by Kaz Onoo, the top-ranked wrestler at 126. Onoo finished second a year ago. Fellow rated individuals Andrew Bartel was eighth and Tom Schiffer qualified.

Spencer’s Levi Gilmore earned sixth a season ago and is currently eighth at 138.

Heavyweight should be an interesting battle, as three ranked wrestlers will compete for the two qualifying slots, while 160, 170 and 182 all boast two each.