Dylan Fielder: Mr. Cool

WEBSTER CITY – Some wrestlers bite their fingernails. Others pace nearby hallways. Some even stand in front of a coach and take a vicious slap to the face.

Hey, whatever gets you pumped up, right?

Dylan Fielder doesn’t need any of that though. He’s fine just being himself – cool, calm, relaxed and laid back – in the minutes leading up to a big match. And it’s served him quite well over the years.

Webster City’s fourth-ranked 195-pounder heads into Saturday’s Class 2A district tournament inside his home WCHS gymnasium on the verge of joining the most elite of Lynx fraternities. A top two finish would give him yet another berth in the traditional state tournament and would make him just the third grappler in school history to qualify four times. He would join three-time state champion Bart Chelesvig and two-time state runner-up Tyler Patten in the illustrious group.

The argument can be made that Fielder’s state trips are the most astonishing of the bunch, as he’s done it all while wrestling with the big boys since his freshman season when he qualified at 171 pounds.

“Dylan’s strengths are that he’s physical and he doesn’t let many things bother him,” WCHS head coach Ted Larson said. “Most times he recovers quickly from a loss, but he doesn’t have many of those either.”

What’s been Fielder’s secret? Besides the fact that he’s naturally gifted, his mental approach allows him to excel on the big stage rather than wilt on it.

“I don’t get nervous anymore,” he said. “Big matches excite me more than anything. I want to wrestle big matches.

“I just try to be laid back because it helps me relax.”

Fielder – 39-2 this season and the owner of 137 career victories, just one behind Patten and teammate Connor Larson for the school’s all-time lead – has placed sixth at 182 the past two seasons and another medal this winter would place him in yet another category with Chelesvig and Patten as the school’s only three-time state place winners. Patten actually did it four times.

Getting to state again would be nice. Reaching the podium again would be nice. But Fielder’s not after nice; he wants perfection.

“It’s a big deal and it’s cool to get down to the state tournament because I love wrestling there in front of thousands of fans,” Fielder said. “But obviously the main goal is to get on top of that podium. It’s my senior year, my last ride.”

“Dylan’s already done things that very few have done and barring a train wreck he’ll do it again,” Ted Larson said.

Fielder is one of eight WCHS wrestlers that will be on the mat Saturday when action gets underway at noon. The gold and silver medalists at each of the 14 weights will advance to next week’s state tournament.

Twelve schools will send a combined 56 individuals into districts; 20 combatants head in ranked by The Predicament.

The Lynx Freddie Seeley (120), Jacob Powers (145), Tanner Hild (152), No. 8-ranked Alex Oswald (160), No. 7-ranked Connor Larson (170), Brandon Patten (182) and No. 4-ranked Gavin Dinsdale (285) will also compete. The eight are a combined 34-12 against their fellow district qualifiers this season.

Powers, Connor Larson and Dinsdale all are looking for their second state berths.

Dinsdale (38-9) figures to face the biggest test in a loaded heavyweight bracket. He’ll face No. 2 Tyler Putney of Forest City in the semifinals, while No. 3 Mario Pena of Hampton-Dumont and No. 5 Dylan Hendricks of Humboldt square off on the other side of the bracket.

Dinsdale nipped Putney, 4-2, earlier this season. He’s 4-1 against Hendricks this season, but 0-3 versus Pena.

Connor Larson (39-7) faces a tough bracket as well; he’ll open against previously ranked Grant Lehmann of Hampton-Dumont. Larson owns three victories against Lehmann this season, the most recent a 5-0 blanking at the Norsemen Duals earlier this month.

No. 4 Nikko Wheeler of Humboldt and 2012 state medalist Tyler Frideres of Algona are also in the field at 170.

Fielder’s road won’t be a breeze either. Standing in his way in the semifinals is Algona’s Jeff Buchanan, who stayed within a point of Fielder in a 3-2 loss in December.

Seeley (31-18) will take on Pierce Gelhaus of Forest City for the first time this season in the semifinals. Powers (40-4) will look to improve to 3-0 this season against Clear Lake’s Blake Kelso. Hild (29-6) will face unfamiliar foe Conner Shaw of Garner-Hayfield/Ventura. Oswald (32-5) takes a two-match win streak in against Algona’s Josh Strohman. Patten (37-11) will try to knock off No. 6-ranked Connor Nosbisch of Clear Lake.

Patten is 1-1 this season against Nosbisch. He suffered an 8-2 setback in early December before returning the favor last month with an 11-9 decision in sudden-victory.

Ted Larson acknowledges just how difficult the district will be for his wrestlers, particularly at several of the weights. But he doesn’t want his pupils to change a thing.

“I just want the kids to keep doing what they’re doing,” he said. “I’m so impressed with how they’re staying focused.

“What we’ve got right now, it’s unreal. We’ve got state matches in our room every night when you’ve got these guys going at it and that has helped to raise the bar.”