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Isaiah Alford defeats Tyler Needham

Lincoln High's Isaiah Alford (right) wrestles Papillion-La Vista South's Tyler Needham (left) at the 170-pound weight class during the Lincoln High Invitational Feb. 3, 2018, at Lincoln High School. Alford won all five of his matches during the meet.

There was no way Isaiah Alford was going to get his shot at age 7 in the doctor’s office.

"I don't even remember it, but my mom told me I wrestled so much that's it took a couple of doctors to hold me down to get that shot," Alford said. "My doctor said, 'He should be a wrestler. Probably a good one someday."

Well, he got the shot, and he doesn't struggle with shots anymore, but his doctor was prophetic. Isaiah is a heck of a wrestler. Maybe the best in the state right now.

After picking up the sport in middle school, Alford struggled through a losing season as a freshman at Lincoln High.

As a sophomore, he claimed a sixth-place medal.

Last year, 44-0 and the state title. He picked up a scholarship to Nebraska and earned plenty of national attention in major meets at Fargo and Virginia, and a summer of wrestling college wrestlers, including former Husker and Olympic and World champion Jordan Burroughs.

And now, he has another state title on his mind. Alford is a preseason favorite at 170 pounds. He only had to drop a few pounds from his football weight.

His football season was one of the best by a back in Nebraska and certainly in the long history of Lincoln High football.

"Football was something I needed to try again, and it worked out pretty good," Alford said. "We had a great team. I felt pretty confident, and I think wrestling made a big difference – in balance, explosiveness and toughness."

He brings all that to the mat, said Lincoln High coach Andy Genrich.

"He's a leader," said Genrich. "Always has been. He works on technique all the time. Then, when he sees I can't get over to help a guy, he's right there to work with the guy who needs the work.

"He's positive. He's like an extra coach. Leads by example, and the rest of our kids seem to enjoy that. We've had others like that in the past – Wes Dawkins and Chase White, to name a couple – and it's a matter of Isaiah wanting to be the guy."

So with the confidence of a champion with "heavy hands," as they like to say in wrestling, Alford is ready to roll this season.

"From start to finish, day by day, I want to build up for this season so I can improve on last year," he said. "Things just fit into place after last year when I won at state and earned All-American status at Fargo."

Alford said he picked up his drive to succeed from his father, Alonzo.

"He has told me about the days when they didn't have enough money for food or heat, but they kept pushing and made it so us kids had something he didn't always have," Isaiah Alford said. "He wants me to be humble and to push as hard in school as I do in sports."


L Magazine editor

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