Bernhard medals at BHC
You can say the Northwestern wrestling team was behind the eight ball as soon as the season started.
Two state-qualifiers from 2014, Matt Peters and Caleb Clymer, have been out of action for much of the season. Peters has wrestled four matches, according to head coach Tom Moll; Clymber hasn’t taken the mat yet this winter. Both are expected back in January after recovering from growth plate issues.
Those absences would figure to hurt most teams. Instead, they seemed to only have fueled the Tigers, who are currently 9-1 overall and 4-1 in Colonial League, which puts them in third place in the District 11 Class AA power rankings.
“We’re pretty loaded in the middle of our lineup,” Moll said. “We have a lot of guys there at 138, 145 and 152, so filling that was not really an issue. We have enough small guys that we were able to fill in Matt’s weight class. We’re doing OK for what we’re putting out there.”
One of the Tigers’ best wrestlers in the lower weights has been Quentin Bernhard. Monday and Tuesday’s Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic was a pleasant change from Northwestern’s dual meet schedule, and a number of Tigers produced solid outings, including Bernhard’s fourth-place finish at 126 pounds.
“You definitely get to see a lot of what you put in—the hard work,” Bernhard said. “It’s a great place to let it all out and see where you’re at because we have a lot of time left in the season.”
Bernhard, who is currently 16-5 this season, gained a bit of revenge in Monday’s quarterfinals round when he defeated Freedom’s Dylan Brown with a takedown in overtime. It was the same opponent he lost to in last year’s tournament, also in overtime.
“I was up until the end, and I was on top in the third period,” Bernhard said. “He got an escape and it was tied. In the first overtime I took him down to win 5-3.
“I just wanted to work and see where I was at. Definitely placing and coming back to the second day was what I wanted. There was definitely an ultimate goal of getting to where I was last year at least.”
He not only advanced to the tournament’s second day, but he improved on last year’s fifth-place finish. After losing to Central Dauphin Beast of the East champion Tyshawn Brown in the semifinals, Bernhard went 1-1 to close the tournament in the consolation bracket.
“He wrestled a good tournament,” Moll said. “There were a lot of really good kids at his weight class. He was at a pretty tough weight class, so fourth is pretty good.”
Moll also pointed to Quentin’s brother, Jackson Bernhard, for having a solid showing in the tournament. He was one win away from earning a medal, and that all came at a weight class higher than he is accustomed to.
“He wrestled at 152,” said Moll. “He’s really a 145-pounder. He was one win from getting to Day 2, so I would say he had a pretty good tournament.”
While there has been plenty of success throughout the lineup despite the two missing pieces to the puzzle, the outlook wasn’t always as positive for the Tigers in previous seasons.
“My freshman and sophomore years, we didn’t have that many wins,” Bernhard said. “Last year, we were able to compete at leagues and team districts, which I hadn’t in my first two years. It has been different having those extra experiences. And then this year coming off some good wins against tough teams, it almost feels like a different team.”
While a number of those wrestlers return from those teams two and three years ago, it certainly is a different team, one that is itching to return to the postseason ranks and compete for some championships.