Wrestling takeaways: Fort Dodge’s Drake Ayala, a pair of Iowa commits produce strong performances at Super 32
If the last two weekends are any indication of what’s to come for Drake Ayala, the Fort Dodge sophomore is in for a big season on the mat.
Last weekend, Ayala competed at the Agony in Ames, where he beat Braxton Brown, 9-5. Brown is a Texas standout who’s ranked No. 3, nationally, by Flowrestling at 106 pounds. It was a huge win for Ayala, a returning Class 3A state finalist for the defending state champion Dodgers.
Then, this past weekend, Ayala made the finals at the Super 32 Challenge, one of the toughest high school wrestling tournaments in the country, out in Greensboro, North Carolina. He won his first six matches by a combined 64-15 — including a 6-4 decision over Brown, where he scored two late takedowns to win.
Ayala ultimately finished second, losing to New York standout Stevo Poulin, 11-8, in the finals at 106 pounds. Poulin scored two takedowns in the first and three back points in the second to lead 8-2, but Ayala stormed back with three takedowns in the third, though the rally ultimately fell short.
Entering the weekend, Ayala was ranked 15th, nationally, at 106 by Flo. His stock should rise significantly after his performance, which included wins over two wrestlers ranked ahead of him. He ultimately finished ahead of seven others (Poulin was ranked 10th).
Ayala told the Des Moines Register last week that he plans on wrestling at 113 in the coming season for the Dodgers. He went 44-2 and was the state runner-up at 106 in Class 3A. Bigger and brighter things are no doubt on the horizon for this Fort Dodge hammer.
Here is video of Ayala following the Agony in Ames last weekend:
Two Iowa commits reach Super 32 finals
The future of the Iowa wrestling program was also on display at this past weekend's Super 32, as well. A pair of recent commits — Kasson-Mantorville’s Patrick Kennedy and Glenbard North’s Abe Assad — both reached the finals at their respective weights.
Assad, ranked second, nationally, at 182 pounds, ended the weekend on top. The Illinois product went 6-0 en route to first, wherein he outscored his opponents 43-12, a scoring output that doesn’t include his victory by fall in the round of 16.
In the finals, Assad took out Pennsylvania product Gerrit Nijenhuis, 5-3. After a scoreless first period, Assad scored an escape and a takedown to lead 3-1 before adding another takedown in the third to seal the victory. He defended eight shots and countless other half-shots throughout the match, only surrendering free escapes to Nijenhuis.
Kennedy, ranked fifth, nationally, at 170, was on the losing end of a wildly entertaining finals bout against future Oklahoma State wrestler Dustin Plott, who’s ranked fourth, nationally, at the same weight. The match ended 16-12 in favor of Plott, and featured eight combined takedowns — though six were in Plott’s favor — and two reversals by Kennedy.
Prior to the finals, Kennedy tore his way through the bottom side of the bracket, going 5-0 and outscoring his opponents 54-8 to reach the finals for the second straight year — Kennedy won the tournament last season.
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Iowa State commit Ryan Anderson takes fifth
A future Cyclone wrestler was also in action. Ryan Anderson, the No. 2-ranked wrestler at 145 pounds and No. 14 pound-for-pound wrestler in the 2019 class, went up to 152 for the weekend, where he went 6-2 overall and placed fifth.
Anderson stormed into the semifinals behind three pins and two close decision victories. There, he lost to Michigan prep Cameron Amine, 3-2, despite scoring the match’s only takedown. A pair of stalling calls in the second and third periods, tagged with two escapes, gave Amine the victory. The Bethlehem Catholic product then fell to fifth.
Mason City’s Cullan Schriever finishes sixth
Cullan Schriever, a two-time state champ from Mason City and a recent Iowa commit, finished sixth at 113 pounds at the Super 32. Schriever won this tournament a year ago, but only reached the quarterfinals this time around.
Schriever, who entered the weekend ranked No. 3, nationally, at 113 — a position he earned after his Junior freestyle national title over the summer — won his first four matches handily before dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to Ohio prep Logan Agin. Schriever then muscled out two more wins in the wrestlebacks before falling to the fifth-place match, where he lost to Agin again, 3-1.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.