Clymer earns state medal
HERSHEY – Caleb Clymer has shown his mettle all season.
Dealing with an extremely painful hip injury that has limited his time on the mat for much of the year, the Northwestern sophomore has made the most of the situation by picking his spots.
Clymer navigated the Class AA District 11 tournament, advancing to the 145-pound final, and made it out of the Southeast Regional with a sixth-place finish to qualify for his second straight state tournament.
After advancing to the semifinals with three straight impressive wins, Clymer showed discretion and foresight, electing not to wrestle his final three matches of the PIAA Wrestling Championships and ending the event with a sixth place finish for his first ever state medal.
Despite the nearly debilitating pain caused by a muscle pulling off a growth plate on is hip, Clymer was not planning on forfeiting out of the tournament.
“Absolutely not,” he said afterward. “I felt good coming into (Friday’s semifinal against South Fayette’s Mike Carr). After the (quarterfinal) match (a 7-4 decision over Reynolds’ Seth Hogue) it just hit me really bad.
“But it was definitely not the plan to get into the semis and forfeit out. I really thought I could be in the finals, but stuff happens and that’s all part of wrestling.”
Clymer certainly turned heads prior to bowing out.
After opening the tournament with a 7-2 decision over Central Cambria’s Tom Opdenhoff in the preliminary round, Clymer knocked off Hogue, who entered the tournament 36-8 and was the Northwest Regional runner-up, Clymer continued a trend that propelled him to three straight wins.
“Takedowns in the first (period) are key, it takes a little bit of pressure off of you heading to the second period,” Clymer said. “You have that chip on your shoulder going in, and it gives you confidence. Even if he gets out (in the second period), you still have that lead.
“It’s very key in these big matches, when you know there won’t be a lot of scoring. To get the first takedown is big.”
Clymer survived several scrambles against Hogue, and converted a reversal to back points that proved to be the difference in the end.
“He did a really good job at the end of periods,” said Northwestern head coach Jim Moll. “He got that first take down, then he got taken down but got a reversal and back points.
“We talk about scoring late in periods all the time, and that made a huge difference today.”
Clymer pulled off an even bigger upset in the first round, topping Northeast Regional champ Collin Edsell of Wyalusing 7-1. Edsell came into the state tournament a staggering 43-1, while Clymer was 15-4 due to time lost because of injury.
“He took fourth at states last year,” Clymer said. “He’s good. I knew who he was. I knew what I had to do and the upset was what I needed and that’s what I got.
“I had to get the first takedown, that’s always key for me. As soon as I did that, and got the two back points, I felt comfortable. I got more back points in the third period and that sealed the deal.”
While Clymer was the only Tiger to earn a medal, Quentin Bernhard ended his career with a second straight appearance at the state tournament. Bernhard went 2-2, and was eliminated after dropping a 5-1 decision to Bedford’s Jonathan Gabriel in the third round of the consolation bracket at 126 pounds.
“It feels good,” Bernhard said. “It definitely makes me feel like I accomplished something during my high school wrestling career, and that it was all worth it. To feel that progress this season felt good.
“As a freshman, I didn’t make it out of districts. As a sophomore I made it to regionals and was one win away from making states. Last year I came to states and lost my two matches. This year, I was one win away from a medal. So each year I kept climbing up.”
Bernhard started his journey in style, pinning Mount Pleasant’s Austin Mihalchik in 1:36.
“It felt great. There’s definitely a lot of excitement going,” Bernhard said.
The senior took control of the match quickly, scoring a takedown in the first 30 seconds before finishing the bout.
Despite facing an opponent that featured a different style than Bernhard was used to, it didn’t take him long to figure it out.
“I’ve wrestled a few kids that were a little bit taller and lankier,” he said. “Sometimes that’s a little bit of a different feel, especially when you tie up.
“But I just tried to watch his step and take a shot at the right time.”
After dropping an 18-5 major decision to Central Cambria’s Max Murin in the first round, Bernhard posted a 14-3 major decision over Warrior Run’s Jeremy Hanford in his second round consolation match.
Despite not earning a medal, Bernhard has plenty to be proud of and look forward to as he is currently ranked third in his class and is also class president.
“I just hope that I proved that if you work hard and really dedicate yourself and put the time and effort into it, that you can get somewhere,” he said. “Wrestling at Northwestern is a great thing and you should be proud of it.
“I’m glad that I could be at the state tournament in my senior year and finish it here. I’m proud of the progression I had during my career and I want to thank all of my coaches for all of the time they put in working with me.”