Ayala Wins Rematch for Title Three

By Jeff Budlong for The Predicament

Drake Ayala of Fort Dodge

DES MOINES -- It was the match that everyone came to see, so it is only fitting that Drake Ayala could poke a little fun at the large amount of media surrounding him.

"You guys want to talk to me?"

Ayala was one half of the focus of the Iowa prep wrestling world during the Iowa State Wrestling Championships as he looked to avenge his lone loss of the season -- and his first loss since his freshman season.

Ayala took the suspense out of his rematch with Waverly-Shell Rock's defending state champion Ryder Block, winning their 132-pound showdown 11-3.

"He is a good dude and I know we both got a lot better," said Ayala, who handed Block the first loss of his high school career. "He may not have gotten the result he wanted, but I know he got better from that and will be thanking me down the road"

Ayala made the decision to bump up to 132 for the postseason after Block beat him 9-7 in the finals of the Waverly-Shell Rock Tournament.

"I thank him for putting me in my place earlier this year and we are both only going to grow from this," Ayala said. "It was more special because I bumped up and I wrestled tougher and I got to do it with my brother. Those three things made it special."

Ayala flashed three fingers after winning the match and was able to give his brother, Dru, a hug, and enjoy the moment as a three-time state champion who is considered a top126-pounder in the nation.

Ayala said he weighed in two pounds under the 132 limit, but he wanted the challenge and there was no strength deficit on the mat. He led just 2-1 after the first period before pouring on the offense in the second with a series of takedowns to go up 7-2 and sail to the win.

"Those guys pushed me and I fully believe I was in the toughest bracket in the whole state tournament," he said. "I am excited that I got to be a part of that and I thank those guys. 

"I didn't [bump up] for anyone else. I did that for me and my family because I know that earlier result wasn't the true result. It was a true result on that day, but not overall."

Ayalya's only loss at the state tournament came in the finals his freshman year against Mason City's Cullan Schriever. Ayala will wrestle at the University of Iowa next year where he will be teammates with Schriever.

"These last four years have been so fun, and I know these next four or five are going to be even more," he said.