2016 DFJ MALE CO-ATHLETES OF THE YEAR: GAVIN DINSDALE AND ALEC FUHS
WEBSTER CITY – Their signature moments are about as similar as their physical features, which is to say not at all.
One used his hulking power, speed and athleticism to blow through one opponent after another until there was only one left to flex and celebrate.
The other went the cerebral route, utilizing his innate ability to block out the pressure and perform at his best on the big stage. He’s not physically imposing and yet there are few better big-game competitors.
Gavin Dinsdale – a 6-foot-2, 230-pound beast of a man who possesses athletic tools that simply can’t be taught.
Alec Fuhs – a 5-foot-10, 160-pound tactician who beats you with his skill and his mind, something he too was born with.
They’re completely different and yet today they’re the same.
Dinsdale and Fuhs, both recent Webster City High School graduates, stand together as the 2016 Daily Freeman-Journal Male Co-Athletes of the Year. Dinsdale becomes the first area athlete to win the award twice – he was the 2015 recipient as well – while Fuhs earned the honor after being a finalist a year ago.
“I really wasn’t expecting to win it because I didn’t know if you could win it two times in a row, so to do it is pretty special,” Dinsdale said.
“This was definitely on my bucket list to win this, so it’s pretty cool,” Fuhs said. “I honestly thought Gavin would get it, so it was a little bit of a surprise.”
Their combined efforts helped WCHS sports programs reach heights never before seen during the 2015-16 school year. Both starred on the Lynx 11-1 football team – the first to reach 11 wins in the 120-year history of the program – that reached the Class 3A state quarterfinals. Dinsdale went back to the wrestling mat in the winter where he became just the fourth Lynx individual ever to win a state title. And in the spring, Fuhs took the lead for the golf team that cemented its iconic status with back-to-back state championships.
Picking between the two was simply not an option. And they were fine with that.
“He’s one of my good friends,” Dinsdale said of Fuhs. “He’s a strategy player and he’s got a great skill set. In football, with (twin brother) Avery (Fuhs) throwing to him, they had something clicking there. Those two fighting just revved them up even harder.”
“He’s a beast among boys,” Fuhs said when asked about Dinsdale. “I was just glad I was on his (football) team and not on the other side trying to tackle him. I would have had 10 concussions.”
But it wasn’t just the two winners who put together strong resumes over this past school year. The other finalists – WCHS seniors Avery Fuhs, Landon Daniels and Victor Jergens, and sophomore Cooper Lawson; and South Hamilton junior Collin Hill and freshman Logan Peters – all accomplished feats that made it one of the most successful years in the area in recent memory.
Together, the eight athletes combined to claim six first-team all-state accolades and nine all-state honors in all. There was the individual state crown for Dinsdale and team title won by the Fuhs boys, as well as a state wrestling runner-up medal for Lawson. Jergens and Daniels were among the best defensive players in the state on the gridiron. Avery Fuhs’ talent and versatility made him an invaluable team member in three sports, most notably on the golf course where he was right beside his brother in the conversation of best players in the state. Hill dominated on the hardwood for the Hawks, and Peters burst onto the scene and was the most talented runner inside the South Hamilton High School halls.
The WCHS Class of 2016 will be remembered as one of the most successful in terms of boys’ sports – a district football title, North Central Conference championship basketball and golf squads, a NCC runner-up wrestling team and a highly-ranked soccer crew, just to touch on the highlights – and Dinsdale says it all stems from work and sacrifice.
“It’s really fulfilling to see how far we’ve come. It’s been a ride,” he said. “I think we definitely left a legacy … we weren’t competing against other teams, we were competing against each other, that was the big thing. If somebody said we couldn’t do something, we were out to prove them wrong.”
The long hours in the gym or on the driving range when nobody was watching, that’s what pushed Fuhs to such great heights.
“What separated (our class) was we were always working in the offseason all the time,” he said. “We just tried to lead by example for all of the younger guys. So when we have reunions and all get together, we’ll have unlimited memories to talk about.”
Dinsdale, who will play football at Grand View University, leaves WCHS on the short list of greatest male athletes of all time and the numbers to back up that claim.
He’s the Lynx record-holder for career rushing yards (3,634) and rushing touchdowns (55) following an all-state senior season in which he piled up 1,958 yards and 29 scores. He had the bull’s-eye on his chest all season and yet still led the team to its first unbeaten regular season in 29 years.
That bull’s-eye was even bigger in wrestling where he was ranked No. 1 all season. His 44-1 record included a 9-1 mark against 2A and 3A state medal winners. He owns the school’s career wins record (145), as well as single-season records for wins (46 as a junior) and team points scored (304 as a senior).
His career ended when he pinned sixth-ranked Levi Duwa (a University of Iowa football recruit) of Mid-Prairie 21 seconds into sudden victory in the 220-pound state final in February. He’s among the very few individuals who can say he walked away a winner.
Dinsdale has always been a superior athlete, but he thinks his mental maturity played a big role in his success as well.
“I knew my freshman and sophomore years I was a head case,” he said. “Finally, in my junior year, something just clicked. I was out there to compete because it was now or never.”
Fuhs, a DMACC golf recruit, doesn’t hold a mountain of records, but he is the only WCHS golfer to ever place in the top two at state – he tied for second, just a shot out of the top spot in May – and play in four state tournaments.
The final round of the state meet was a shot-for-shot showdown between Fuhs and eventual winner Clayton Larsen of West Delaware. Both moved to 5-under par at one point and the outcome wasn’t decided until the final green.
“It was unreal … I loved it,” Fuhs, who was named to the all-state first team along with his brother, said. “Every shot mattered and it came down to putting at the end and he putted better than I did.”
His love of the big moment was also apparent in late February when he single-handedly kept the WCHS boys’ basketball team in a 3A substate final against third-ranked Spirit Lake. With the Lynx trailing 21-2 after one quarter, Fuhs poured in 14 second-quarter points and assisted on four more to lead a 20-3 run that brought WCHS back to within three points, 27-24, at the half. His final 3-pointer of the game knotted it at 50 in the fourth quarter, but Spirit Lake answered with a closing 10-0 run to win 60-50.
“Basketball, not making it to state, will be something that I will always regret because I wanted to play in Wells Fargo (Arena),” Fuhs, a second-team all-state guard, said. “But golf kind of made up for it.”
The accomplishments, the wow moments by both Dinsdale and Fuhs, they go on and on.
Not bad, guys. Not bad at all.