State Wrestling: Quarterfinal And Semifinal Rounds

By K.J. Pilcher and Josh Christensen, Reporters

The video above is TV9's Josh Christensen's report from day three of the state tournament, where wrestlers competed for a spot in Saturday's final matches. The story below is from K.J. Pilcher, and focuses on a trio of Linn-Mar wrestlers. All of our Gazette/KCRG coverage is housed Iowa Prep Sports.

DES MOINES, Iowa – Linn-Mar has three wrestlers still in the hunt for an individual state title.

Matt Wempen, Alijah Jeffery and Ross Lembeck won quarterfinal matches Friday during the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 3A state wrestling tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.

Wempen, who won the 106-pound title last year as a freshman, produced one of the round's biggest victories, knocking of previously unbeaten and top-ranked Bryce Meyer of Fort Madison, 3-0. Fourth-ranked Wempen scored the only takedown in the first and then added an escape in the second.

Wempen will get a chance to avenge his only loss of the season when he faces Mason City's third-ranked Kaz Onoo in the semifinals.

Top-ranked Jeffery, who has placed third at state the last two seasons, moved into the semifinals with his second shutout of the tournament, blanking Oskaloosa's Nate Caves, 4-0, at 120.

Lembeck, a state finalist last year and two-time medalist, has wrestled well since returning from injury. Lembeck (22-1) beat West Des Moines Valley's Dylan Matter, 2-0, to reach the semifinals, setting up a #1 vs. #2 matchup against Waverly-Shell Rock's Spencer Derifield (43-5).

The Lions weren't without their share of disappointment. Top-ranked Joel Northrup was unbeaten until Indianola's Matt Victor rode him the entire 30-second ultimate tiebreaker period for a 2-1 victory. Northrup placed third as a freshman and junior and will look to place that high again.

"I worked my whole life to win the gold," Northrup said. "I guess this time I didn't step up to the challenge."

Southeast Polk's Keegan Shaw edged Linn-Mar's fourth-ranked Damon Griffin, 4-3 at 126.

Griffin, Northrup, 182-pounder Andrew Holladay and Justin Green at 220 won consolation round matches to secure a top-eight medal. The Lions were fifth with 46 points, heading into the semifinals and trailing Waverly-Shell Rock by three for fourth place. Southeast Polk was first with 91 1/2 points. Cedar Rapids Prairie was second with 63, just 2 1/2 of Bettendorf.

The 3A semifinals are set for 8:30 p.m. Friday.

Linn-Mar semifinal matchups:

113 – #4 Matt Wempen (35-1) vs. #3 Kaz Onoo (Mason City, 41-3)

120 – #1 Alijah Jeffery (4-0) vs. John Gioffredi (Indianola, 39-2)

152 – #1 Ross Lembeck (22-1) vs. #2 Spencer Derifield (Waverly-Shell Rock, 43-5)
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