2016 was supposed to be the year that the Rams handed its chokehold on the state to another team. The deck was stacked against the Rams, as they'd graduated 5 State Finalists and 2 State Champions from their 193 point, 2015 State Championship team. Fort Dodge had a class they'd been anticipating for years. West Des Moines Valley had its best team yet, bolstered with fresh talent. But instead of relinquishing their grip, the Rams squeezed tighter than ever.
The first shot came in the form of a party spoiling win at #1 Fort Dodge, amidst a packed house, a laser light show, and the reunion of their 1985 State Championship team. Next was the defeat of the newly minted #1 West Des Moines Valley, also on their home turf. The Rams remained undefeated, but they'd have to fight for every point, every inch, every time. This burden fell not only to the returning place winners, but also fresh Varsity faced Seniors Sol Jones and Daniel Ramirez.
Even the State qualifying district pairings were aligned against the Rams. The Iowa High School Athletic Association paired #1 Southeast Polk and #2 Valley together. #3 Fort Dodge drooled over their soft district. The Western district was so sparse that Council Bluffs Lewis Central - who lead the state with 11 state qualifying wrestlers - failed to qualify for the State Dual Tournament, eventually finishing 27th at the Traditional State Tournament.
With its sights set on the Traditional State Title, Fort Dodge withdrew from the 2016 Dual State Tournament, leaving Valley unchallenged until the finals against SEP. The teams were so evenly matched that the coin flip, of all things, perhaps played the determining factor in Valley's upset State Dual Championship over SEP.
Painful as the loss was, it only hardened the Rams for the Traditional State Tournament. When Valley quickly stumbled out of the race, SEP's 9 State Qualifiers edged ahead of Fort Dodge's talent loaded team, every point, every inch, every session. The tournament was epitomized by Sol Jones' challenge after losing the final match of his career: Let's. Go. Again. Tasked with locking up the title before the finals, the Rams tore through the backside brackets, upsetting one less-motivated wrestler after another.
In the end, the Rams amassed an impressive 141.5 points (10 ahead of Fort Dodge) and won the 2nd consecutive (and 3rd out of 4 years) State Traditional Champship. This feat was all the more impressive and all the more telling of the Rams' season, as they did so by placing 8 (of 9) qualifiers, winning without a State Champion.
113: Gauge Perrien (So.) - 3rd
120: Adam Brown (Jr.) - 2nd
126: Nathan Lendt (So.) - 2nd
138: Zach Barnes (Jr.) - 3rd
152: Sol Jones (Sr.) - 6th
160: Gavin Babcock (Jr.) - DNP
182: Kameron Padavich (Sr.) - 4th
220: Ethan Andersen (Sr.) - 2nd
HWT: Daniel Ramirez (Sr.) - 3rd
Back2Back - 2016 State Champs