IOWA CITY – Alijah Jeffery is on a mission.
Linn-Mar’s top-ranked 120-pounder continued his dominance that he plans to carry on until late February.
Jeffery recorded two pins as the Class 3A second-ranked Lions handled Iowa City West, 47-20, and Dubuque Wahlert, 66-6, in a Mississippi Valley Conference double-dual Thursday night at West High School.
Jeffery improved to 12-0 with 10 pins. His closest result has been a 10-point win.
“I’m not looking to just win state,” Jeffery said. “I’m looking to dominate all year, dominate all the way through the state finals.”
The state finals is just about the only match he hasn’t wrestled, placing third at state twice. He suffered close losses at state each of the last two season, including a 1-0 semifinal decision to last year’s 113-pound runner-up.
“It’s good, but it’s also disappointing,” said Jeffery, who lost said. “Each year I’ve wanted to win and I’ve been so close. Close matches I have lost. It’s not going to happen again.”
Jeffery has taken measures to make sure that is the case. He dedicated more time to freestyle during the offseason, earning all-America status at Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D. The focus was improvement in the neutral position and it has paid dividends.
“I pushed myself, because I wanted this year to be the best ever,” said Jeffery, noting his eighth-place finish this summer. “I’m ready for the push here.”
Linn-Mar Coach Doug Streicher said Jeffery was a title contender already. He has made the gains to take that final step on the podium.
“He was there last year,” said Streicher. “He was a hair away last year. We didn’t have to improve on a lot to make himself a viable candidate for a state championship, but he has improved.”
Streicher said Jeffery has yet to be tested. It could be a combination of Jeffery distancing himself from the rest and a lack of top-flight opponents.
“His is coming,” Streicher said. “I’m waiting for that marquee match for him.”
Jeffery pinned Wahlert’s Matt Wigginton in 2:56 in the opener, and needed 1:31 to deck West’s Jakeb Bakken in the nightcap. Jeffery has always been tough on top and has looked to end matches early this season.
“I go for the pin every time,” Jeffery said. “Put them away quick and get the match over.”
The Lions (6-3, 4-1) were dominant overall. They won 10 matches against the Trojans, who dropped out of latest rankings by The Predicament for the first time in at least a decade.
Andrew Holladay (170) opened with a pin and freshman 106-pounder Noah Ajram’s first-period fall put the Lions up, 15-12, after five matches. They never looked back.
Damon Griffin (126) and second-ranked Joel Northrup at 145 added pins. Ross Lembeck and Dakota Digmann posted consecutive major decisions. Justin Green scored a takedown with 18 seconds left in a one-minute sudden-victory overtime period for a 3-1 win over Micah Kelsay at 220. Johnny Clymer also won by decision at 113 against West.
Doug Streicher recognizes progress since last week’s loss to Cedar Rapids Prairie. The Lions have worked to improve what Streicher has stressed about their performance.
“I’m seeing some of it here and there,” Streicher said. “We’re not consistent through the whole match.
“Sometimes you have to keep perspective and how good the opponent is. It’s not always easy to do as a coach when you’re trying to fix certain things and they don’t look like they’re getting fixed.”
Linn-Mar was without state champion Matt Wempen at 113. He suffered an undisclosed injury during the Five Seasons Duals on Saturday, and Streicher said Wempen consulted medical professionals. He is still waiting word on Wempen’s return.
“We might see him next week,” Streicher saud. “It’s doubtful.”
West (7-2, 5-1) received pins from Mickey Pelfrey (195) and heavyweight Colin Foerstner, taking a 12-9 lead. Chris Walters (132) and top-ranked 138-pounder Kegan Wakefield had back-to-back majors for the Trojans against Linn-Mar.
West trounced Wahlert (2-8, 2-4), scoring seven pins and closing with four in the final five weights.
Linn-Mar and West will compete at the Battle of Waterloo dual tournament Friday and Saturday at Young Arena.
AT IOWA CITY WEST
Linn-Mar 47, Iowa City West 20
182 – Andrew Holladay, LIMA, pinned Mitch Yoerger, ICW, 3:35; 195 – Mickey Pelfrey, ICW, pinned Sam Nowak, LIMA, 1:17; 220 – Justin Green, LIMA, dec. Micah Kelsay, ICW, 3-1; 285 – Colin Foerstner, ICW, pinned Ben Overdyk, LIMA, 1:20; 106 – Noah Ajram, LIMA, pinned Jordan Crawford, ICW, 1:12; 113 – John Clymer, LIMA, dec. Jasmine Bailey, ICW, 8-2; 120 – Alijah Jeffery, LIMA, pinned Jakeb Bakken, ICW, 1:31; 126 – Damon Griffin, LIMA, pinned Sage Wisner, ICW, 1:33; 132 – Chris Walters, ICW, maj. dec. Emmanuel Jeffery, LIMA, 19-10; 138 – Kegan Wakefield, ICW, maj. dec. Shea Hartzler, LIMA, 10-0; 145 – Joel Northrup, LIMA, pinned Tyler Hebl, ICW, 3:09; 152 – Ross Lembeck, LIMA, maj. dec. John Milani, ICW, 17-5; 160 – Dakota Digmann, LIMA, maj. dec. Jackson Voigt, ICW, 11-2; 170 – Luke Wempen, LIMA, dec. Donovan Doyle, ICW, 4-0.
Linn-Mar 66, Dubuque Wahlert 6
160 – Dakota Digmann, LIMA, pinned Riley Hasken, WAHL, 1:29; 170 – Weslee Haynes, WAHL, dec. Luke Wempen, LIMA, 7-3; 182 – Andrew Holladay, LIMA, pinned Chris Sullivan, WAHL, 1:47; 195 – Sam Nowak, LIMA, dec. Ries Bohr, WAHL, 10-8; 220 – Ryan Seaman, WAHL, dec. Ben Overdyk, LIMA, 4-2; 285 – Justin Green, LIMA, forf.; 106 – Noah Ajram, LIMA, pinned Anthony Dudek, WAHL, 4:39; 113 – John Clymer, LIMA, dec. Rees Hauder, WAHL, 7-5; 120 – Alijah Jeffery, LIMA, pinned Matt Wigginton, WAHL, 2:56; 126 – Damon Griffin, LIMA, forf.; 132 – Emmanuel Jeffery, LIMA, pinned Jacob Lange, WAHL, 3:09; 138 – Shea Hartzler, LIMA, forf.; 145 – Joel Northrup, LIMA, pinned Colin Smith, WAHL, 3:10; 152 – Ross Lembeck, LIMA, pinned Myles Wernimont, WAHL, 0:48.
Iowa City West 70, Dubuque Wahlert 4
170 – Weslee Haynes, WAHL, maj. dec. Donovan Doyle, ICW, 10-0; 182 – Mitch Yoerger, ICW, dec. Chris Sullivan, WAHL, 5-2; 195 – Mickey Pelfrey, ICW, pinned Ries Bohr, WAHL, 0:43; 220 – Micah Kelsay, ICW, pinned Ryan Seaman, WAHL, 2:54; 285 – Colin Foerstner, ICW, forf.; 106 – Jordan Crawford, ICW, pinned Anthony Dudek, WAHL, 2:29; 113 – Jasmine Bailey, ICW, dec. Rees Hauder, WAHL, 9-3; 120 – Jakeb Bakken, ICW, maj. dec. Matt Wigginton, WAHL, 9-1; 126 – Sage Wisner, ICW, forf.; 132 – Chris Walters, ICW, pinned Jacob Lange, WAHL, 2:51; 138 – Kegan Wakefield, ICW, forf.; 145 – Tyler Hebl, ICW, pinned Colin Smith, WAHL, 1:41; 152 – John Milani, ICW, pinned Myles Wernimont, WAHL, 1:50; 160 – Jackson Voigt, ICW, pinned Riley Hasken, WAHL, 4:29.
Alijah Jeffery, Andrew Holladay, Chris Walters, Colin Foerstner, Dakota Digmann, Damon Griffin, Doug Streicher, Dubuque Wahlert, gallery, Iowa City West, Joel Northrup, Johnny Clymer, Justin Green, kegan Wakefield, Linn-Mar, Lions, Luke Wempen, Matt Wempen, Mickey Pelfrey, Noah Ajram, Ross Lembeck, Wrestling