IOWA CITY — Linn-Mar’s Brandon O’Brien has displayed his growth from last season.
Sure, it’s easy to see in his wrestling, as he has ascended to No. 1 in the Class 3A individual rankings after winning national titles in folkstyle and Greco-Roman and earning a runner-up finish in freestyle in the preseason.
It is noticeable in his frame where he has transformed from being small for the lightest high school weight to a full-sized 106-pounder.
“I’m pretty big at 106,” O’Brien said. “I’m not losing anymore solely because of weight. I’m beating guys that would beat me last year based on weight. It’s pretty nice for me. It gives me that mental edge, too.”
The gains were seen in his result as well. O’Brien scored three takedowns to defeat Iowa City West’s fourth-ranked Grant O’Dell and help the Lions to a 46-20 Mississippi Valley Conference dual victory Thursday at West.
O’Dell defeated O’Brien to reach the state podium in February. O’Brien has avenged the loss in all three disciplines, including a 6-1 decision Thursday.
“That’s different,” O’Brien said about the freestyle and Greco wins over the summer. “Tonight, it was more I had to get that to prove to myself that no one was going to stop me.”
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O’Brien led throughout, scoring a takedown in each period and following with a suffocating ride to finish each frame on top. The junior prefers wrestling in the neutral position, honing his craft with countless repetitions and hours on drilling.
“I love being on my feet,” O’Brien said. “That’s my favorite position. I love it. I always cut guys and go hard.”
Linn-Mar Coach Doug Streicher said O’Brien has prevented opponents from grabbing his elbows and dictating the pace. He has varied his attacks, using a knee pull for scores and not relying on a duck under.
“He doesn’t slow down, he’s dangerous,” Streicher said. “He gets after it.”
Linn-Mar won two of three pairings between ranked wrestlers. The Lions’ No. 3 Ryan Plummer won the first with an impressive pin over No. 4 Ashton Barker at 170.
Plummer used a reversal and nearfall to take a 5-0 lead in the second period and finished off the fall on the edge of the mat in 2:50.
The win followed Tate Naaktgeboren’s pin at 160 to open the dual. The Lions won nine matches, including six by fall and another by major decision.
“That was huge,” Streicher said. “We knew this whole meet was going to be good matches.
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“We were physical in a lot of matches and why we came out on top of a lot of those matches.”
Marwan Altall (113), Bryce Parke (126), 138-pounder Reece Seery and Hiku Carolin at 145 had pins for Linn-Mar.
Iowa City West’s eighth-ranked Graham Gambrall closed the dual with a 13-7 decision over No. 10 Abass Kemokai at 152. Gambrall scored five takedowns, including four in the final period. Top-ranked Hunter Garvin added a 20-5 technical fall at 132 and Anu Dokun (195) won by fall for the Trojans.
AT IOWA CITY
Linn-Mar 46, Iowa City West 20
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
160 pounds — Tate Naaktgeboren (LM) pinned Collin Leavy, 2:23 (3,0); 170 — Ryan Plummer (LM) pinned Ashton Barker, 2:50 (0,0); 182 — Grant Henderson (ICW) dec. Roark Martin, 3-1 (1,0); 195 — Anu Dokun (ICW) pinned Dylan Page, 3:37 (2,0); 220 — Luke Gaffney (LM) major dec. Brett Pelfrey, 10-1 (2,0); Hwt. — Ben Alden (ICW) dec. Cleo Gehrls, 2-1 (1,0); 106 — Brandon O’Brien (LM) dec. Grant O’Dell, 6-1 (3,0); 113 — Marwan Altall (LM) pinned Thomas Pierce, 2:27 (1,0); 120 — Caden Senters (LM) dec. Isaac Liao, 7-2 (3,0); 126 — Bryce Parke (LM) pinned Jack Clark, 1:12 (2,0); 132 — Hunter Garvin (ICW) technical fall Brayden Parke, 20-5 (7,0); 138 — Reece Seery (LM) pinned Carlo Tran, 1:22 (1,0); 145 — Hiku Carolin (LM) pinned Drake Davis, 1:07 (1,0); 152 — Graham Gambrall (ICW) dec. Abass Kemokai, 13-7 (5,1).
Takedowns — Linn-Mar 17, I.C. West 16. Reversals — Linn-Mar 1, I.C. West 0. Escapes — Linn-Mar 14, I.C. West 8. Nearfall points — Linn-Mar 9, I.C. West 7. Penalty points (awarded) — Linn-Mar 2, I.C. West 3. Total match points — Linn-Mar 61, I.C. West 50.
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