Skip to main content

Wrestling: Fort Dodge's Drake Ayala defeats California standout Richie Figueroa at Flowrestling's Who's Number One


Cody Goodwin   | Des Moines Register
play
Show Caption

Drake Ayala staked his claim, emphatically, as one of the country's best pound-for-pound wrestlers on Saturday night.

Ayala beat California standout Richie Figueroa, 5-3 in sudden victory, at Flowrestling's Who's Number One in Austin, Texas. The Fort Dodge senior used two takedowns to secure one of the competition's biggest individual victories.

"Just like the great Brent Metcalf said," Ayala said in a post-match interview with Flowrestling, "we came to reinforce what they already believe. They know I have pace and they know I have a lefty single, and they couldn't stop either of them."

Ayala became just the second Iowa native to wrestle in Flo's premiere prep wrestling event, joining Bettendorf's Fredy Stroker, who competed there in both 2013 and 2014. He was also one of two Iowa commits to wrestle in this year's dual — Wyatt Henson, out of Pennsylvania, lost to Tennessee native Cody Chittum, 8-5.

The Ayala-Figueroa match was tabbed as a highly-anticipated co-main event. Figueroa is an Arizona State commit, a Cadet freestyle world silver medalist, and a three-time state champ in single-class California. He is also considered the No. 2 overall 2021 recruit and the No. 1 pound-for-pound wrestler in the country, according to MatScouts.

But Ayala, MatScouts' No. 9 overall 2021 recruit, a two-time Class 3A state champion and a 2019 Junior freestyle national champion, turned it into a mostly one-sided affair. He dictated the pace from the opening whistle and fired off significantly more shots than Figueroa, who took maybe a couple during the entire match.

Ayala scored off a left-side sweep-single in the first period for an early 2-1 advantage. He extended his lead with a quick escape in the second, but Figueroa leveled the match at 3-3 in the third thanks to an escape and a technical violation point after Ayala caught his fingers in Figueroa's shirt during what would've been his second takedown.

It mattered little. Ayala continued firing off shots throughout the third period, nearly scoring a match-winner on the edge in regulation. He employed the same strategy in the extra period, and connected on a slide-by for a quick two points to win.

"Attack, attack, attack," Ayala said of his strategy. "Everybody said how good he was, and it was a great challenge. That's why I chose bottom and got out in five seconds.

"I didn't change any of my training toward him, but I was aware of the positions he was good in. I was better."

The result of this exhibition may push Ayala further up national big boards and pound-for-pound rankings. It is also a springboard for Ayala as he begins his senior season with the Dodgers. 

Bigger events and opponents await Ayala down the road, both this season and when he moves to Iowa City. But Saturday night provided a glimpse of how good he can be — a statement, perhaps, to the rest of the country that one of Iowa's best-ever wrestling talents still getting better.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

Your subscription makes work like this possible. Subscribe today at DesMoinesRegister.com/Deal