When your three best wrestlers are at weights where the opponent has No. 1-ranked wrestlers in the state, you know your chances of team success are diminished.
That’s what Clinton faced in the Iowa Class 3A regional dual team competition Wednesday night. Despite winning one of those three matches, the River Kings suffered a 48-12 loss to host Marion Linn-Mar.
“Going into it, we knew we were going against one of the toughest teams in the state,” Clinton coach J.D. Lueders said. “It’s a big accomplishment (reaching the regional final). We knew we wouldn’t match up well.”
The River Kings made things interesting early, starting with a meet-opening pin from 285-pounder Jake Oldaker. Linn-Mar won the next two matches, then Clinton’s Hunter Genco pulled off a huge win at 120 pounds.
Genco, ranked fifth in the state by thepredicament.com, defeated top-ranked Alijah Jeffery 6-4 to pull the River Kings within 10-9 in the dual.
Jeffery had beaten Genco each of the four times they had wrestled each other the past two seasons, with Genco scoring three points each time. One of the wins this year was by a 13-3 score and the other was 9-3 in the semifinals of the Bob Lueders Invitational.
“Genco kind of took Jeffery out of the match,” J.D. Lueders said. “Hunter came right out at him. He took him out of his rhythm. He wrestled totally different.
“It’s tough to beat someone three or four straight. It can send a message. I think this kid has to be concerned with Hunter at state. It was worth the risk (of the possibility of a fifth straight loss).”
After Genco’s victory, Linn-Mar pulled away by winning the next six matches, including three by pin. Two of the wins featured No. 1-ranked Lions against third-ranked River Kings.
At 145, Linn-Mar’s Joel Northrup used an early five-point move to get started toward a 12-1 win against Alex Caldwell, and at 152, Ross Lembeck beat Dustin Caldwell 5-3.
“Alex got caught in a weird predicament and was down quick,” Lueders said. “Later, the referee said because he called a takedown he had to give back points, but he just as easily could have given it a stalemate.”
It was Northrup’s third victory against Caldwell this season. The others were by 5-4 and 5-2 scores.
Dustin Caldwell and Lembeck had not faced off this season.
Linn-Mar’s string of wins was capped Dakota Digmann, who was trailing 3-2, got a headlock on seventh-ranked Dillion Chase and pinned him.
Nick Hatheway ended the skid for Clinton with a 4-2 win at 170, then Linn-Mar won the final three matches. At 195, Sam Nowak avenged an earlier loss by beating Clinton’s Justin Guilliams 8-4. In the final match, fifth-ranked Justin Green needed overtime to defeat Clinton’s Rafael Ramirez 4-2.
LINN-MAR 48, CLINTON 12
285 — Jake Oldaker (C) pinned Ben Overdyk 1:24; 106 — Noah Ajram (LM) m. dec. Amani Larson 11-0; 113 — Matt Wempen (LM) pinned Craig Harlock :31; 120 — Hunter Genco (C) dec. Alijah Jeffery 6-4; 126 — Damon Griffin (LM) dec. Curtis Ilg 8-1; 132 — Toby Northrup (LM) pinned Riley Chapman 3:08; 138 — Shea Hartzler (LM) pinned Mike Peters 1:04; 145 — Joel Northrup (LM) m. dec. Alex Caldwell 12-1; 152 — Ross Lembeck (LM) dec. Dustin Caldwell 5-3; 160 — Dakota Digmann (LM) pinned Dillion Chase 2:46; 170 — Nick Hatheway (C) dec. Luke Wempen 4-2; 182 — Andrew Holladay (LM) m. dec. Josiah Molina 13-5; 195 — Sam Nowak (LM) dec. Justin Guilliams 8-4; 220 — Justin Green (LM) dec. Rafael Ramirez 4-2 ot.