DES MOINES -There is a little bit of everything on a checklist for the Fort Dodge wrestling team heading into the state tournament.
There are title aspirations, medal hopes, redemption and rookie voyages, but at the top of the list - bringing back some hardware.
Seven Dodgers, four with state experience compassing 10 combined trips, will begin their tourney trek on Thursday morning.
Class 3A competition kicks off the state tournament inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines and 9 a.m. and runs through 12:15 p.m. for the first round.
Dodger seniors Nate Lentsch (120), Brayton Taylor (145), Ben Schnurr (220) and junior Duke Egli (160) will return to Wells Fargo Arena.
Seniors Shea Springer (170) and Michael Licht (182), along with sophomore Riley Prescott will make their first trip to the mats in Des Moines.
"It helps to have some veterans to show the new guys the ropes,'' said Fort Dodge head coach Bobby Thompson. "It'll be nice to get down there and get the kids acclimated to the environment.
"We're in a good mindset and peaking at the right time. We just have to wrestle one match at a time and to the best of our ability.''
After a heartbreaking junior campaign, third-ranked Taylor (8-1) is hoping for another medal, but this time he's hoping for something better than his silver or bronze.
"One of the reasons he settled on 145 is he wants that title,'' Thompson said. "We felt this weight was better for that.
"The pressure is off him as far as districts, so he's going in as the underdog and he has a lot to prove from last year. He has hunger and confidence.''
Taylor (8-1), who lost a controversial decision at districts last season, has fought through injuries this year and will compete at state as Dodger for the first time since placing third and second at Prairie Valley.
The Dodger senior, who has a career mark of 124-7, will compete against Knoxville's 10th-ranked Lane Colwell (38-3) in the first round. With a win, he would face No. 7 Kolton Rottink of Waverly-Shell Rock or No. 8 Peyton Wagner of Cedar Rapids Prairie with a semifinal match looming against top-ranked Gabriel Moreno of Urbandale.
"He has a tough match out of the shoot,'' Thompson said. "There is also two ranked kids set up for the quarters and Moreno could be in the semifinals. He feels good and is real confident and has a good mindset.''
Lentsch, who is rated No. 5 is also making his third trip, and after earning his first win last season, Lentsch is hoping for a spot on the medal stand.
"Last year was a pretty good goal for him to medal, but he's not settling for anything less this time,'' Thompson said. "He has a tough weight class, but I like Nate's chances in his third trip.''
Lentsch (22-4) will face Pleasant Valley's third-ranked Tyler Willers (47-2) in the first round.
Schnurr (27-10) is making his second consecutive trip and will meet Andrew Overton (31-11) of Denison-Schlewsig in his opener.
"He's a senior captain and has worked his tail off now and in the offseason,'' Thompson said. "He's giving up some size, but he'll out work anybody. We want to grind it out and wear them down.''
Egli (31-6), ranked ninth, is making his second trip after qualifying as a freshman and missing out last season. Egli will face a duanting task in top-ranked Justin Koethe (50-1) of Iowa City West in the first round. Koethe has finished third twice and fourth once.
"Koethe, will be wrestling at state duals (tonight), so maybe we'll catch him,'' Thompson said. "We have nothing to lose, if not will come back on the other side.''
Springer (19-12) also has a tough draw in third-ranked Colbey Vance (36-5) of Bettendorf.
"He definitely has a tough first round match,'' Thompson said. "But, Shea has wrestled a lot of matches, been with his older brother and he's just going to go out there and compete.''
Licht (26-16) will face No. 5 Mark Atwater (28-3) of Linn-Mar in his opener.
"He won big matches just to get here,'' Thompson said. "But, I know he's not going to be just satisfied to be here.
"He's just going to let it hang out there, throw down and no regrets.''
Prescott (20-19) is the young gun of the group and is hoping to feed off the returnees and the seniors.
"It's huge for a young guy to come down here and get his feet wet,'' Thompson said. "He earned an award his freshman year for competing and now he's down here getting experience.
"He has two solid years to build on whatever he does, and this year will do nothing but motivate him.''
Contact Chris Johnson at (515) 573-2141 or by e-mail at email@example.com