2019 DFJ Male Co-Athlete of the Year: Drake Doolittle and Dylan Steen

Humility, immense talent bond WCHS?seniors

WCHS seniors Dylan Steen and Drake Doolittle (center) are presented with their trophies for being named the Daily Freeman-Journal Male Co-Athlete of the Year by DFJ Advertising Director Cory Bargfrede (left) and Fareway General Manager Matt Shannon (right). DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — In so many ways, Dylan Steen and Drake Doolittle are different athletes. And in so many ways, they’re exactly the same.

Both are multiple-sport standouts, but they soar over the crowd in different disciplines. Steen has the ability to make any athletic endeavor look easy, while Doolittle, at 130 pounds soaking wet, can make even the biggest of adversaries quake just a little bit with his no-fear attitude and bulldog-like relentlessness.

Here’s where they’re the same, and Bob Howard describes it this way …

“They’re 20th century athletes and that’s as big a compliment as I could give kids,” Howard, Webster City’s head football coach, said. “They’re not into social media, and likes and retweets. They believe that if you do the work you’ll get the credit without having to campaign for it. A lot of kids and even adults don’t get that, they think you have to toot your horn all the time, but (Steen and Doolittle) certainly aren’t that way.”

Howard nailed it.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Doolittle and Steen had the spotlight thrust on them at a very early age. And while neither necessarily shied away from it, they didn’t exactly welcome it either. It’s simply not their styles.

“You don’t have to talk about it. You just have to show up and do your role,” Steen said.

“I just think of it as we’re all going to practice and working hard, we’re all putting in the time and effort,” Doolittle said. “I know there are guys that work their butts off in practice like I do. They may not have had as much success as I had, but I think those guys should get as much attention as me.”

They are throwbacks in the best ways imaginable.

Talent, accolades, work ethic, humility — they check all of the boxes. And today they check one more box together by being named the 2019 Daily Freeman-Journal Male Co-Athlete of the Year.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Why not choose one winner? If you would like to debate the merits of both, go right ahead, but the simple truth is Doolittle and Steen are two of the best athletes to grace the halls of Webster City High School in the last two decades. Choosing between them is not only nearly impossible, but it would be a slap in the face to what both have accomplished.

Besides, sharing the award is fine with them. It should be with you, too.

“It’s an amazing honor and to be able to share it with Dylan, we’ve been teammates our entire careers and it makes it that much cooler,” Doolittle said.

The respect they have for one another is off the charts as well. For example …

Hey, Dylan, how would you describe Drake?

“Honestly, the word that comes to mind is ruthless,” Steen said. “He’s just a fierce competitor and he’s so fun to watch.”

And, Drake, what makes Dylan stand out?

“I consider him one of the best leaders to ever come through Webster City athletics,” Doolittle said. “Playing football with him, he could control a huddle like no one else could. He’s someone everyone looks to and everyone wants to work just as hard as him.”

If it’s accomplishments you’re looking for, well, their resumes speak for themselves.

Doolittle employed a hostile takeover of the WCHS wrestling record book during a senior year in which he went 43-1 and won the Class 2A 120-pound state championship, becoming just the fifth Lynx wrestler to claim state gold. He owns records for most wins, pins, takedowns and team points. He stepped onto the mat 191 times in his career and lost just 16 bouts.

He’ll continue his wrestling career at Duke University in the fall.

Doolittle wasn’t too bad on the football field either where he earned 3A all-district honors while playing in the backfield and secondary. Small in stature, he never backed down, something Steen remembers well.

“I was talking to Coach Howard the other day and to this day he tells me that Drake knocking (all-state defensive tackle) Coty Lemon on his butt twice are his favorite plays,” Steen said.

Steen doesn’t own a state title, but he nearly captured a state record. An elite all-state safety on the football field, he finished off his prep career last fall with 22 interceptions, the third-most all-time and just two shy of the record.

Steen went into his final game against Boone last October thinking about the mark, but the Toreadors intentionally blocked his pursuit. They gave Steen the Deion Sanders treatment and threw the ball wherever he wasn’t.

“It would have been kind of cool to get the record, but after the first half (against Boone) I started catching onto it,” Steen, who will play football at Wartburg, said. “At the River Battle Bowl, a Boone coach told me that during practice that week they had a safety wear a yellow jersey (to indicate Steen) and the quarterback was supposed to throw away from it.”

Steen was also a first-team all-conference pick on the hardwood and baseball diamond. It’s possible he’ll be a two-time all-state baseball player by this time next week.

Great athletes, even better kids. What more could you want?

“Those two leave a big hole in the entire athletic department,” Howard said. “Whatever sport was in season, they excelled at it. That’s always what we want out of our athletes.”

The other five finalists for the Athlete of the Year award read like a Who’s Who of area legends. They include 2018 winner Logan Peters of South Hamilton, as well as fellow Hawks Cole Berg, Quinton Grove and Conner Hill. Caleb Olson, a classmate of the winners, was a finalist as well.

DFJ Male Athletes of the Year

2014: Trevor Ullestad, South Hamilton

2015: Gavin Dinsdale, Webster City

2016: Gavin Dinsdale and Alec Fuhs, Webster City

2017: Drew Fielder, Webster City

2018: Logan Peters, South Hamilton

2019: Drake Doolittle and Dylan Steen, Webster City

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