Clymer, Peters grab gold at Coal Cracker
The Tigers finished second in the 9th Annual Coal Cracker Tournament at Panther Valley High School last weekend.
Two Tigers earned gold medals at the meet.
Matt Peters edged Ryan McGuire of Notre Dame (Green Pond) 1-0 in the 132-pound final, while Caleb Clymer topped Scranton’s Jacob Burgette 6-2 for the 160-pound title to give Northwestern two champions.
“It feels good, considering being out two years,” said Peters. “It feels good that I’m back, and I’m wrestling well.”
Peters was a state qualifier as a freshman before an illness derailed his sophomore year and an injury cut short his junior season.
Fully healthy once again, Peters (27-4) has flourished this season. And it showed throughout the two-day tournament.
The senior edged Valley View’s Brandon Judge 3-1 in overtime to reach the finals before pulling out a close win against McGuire.
Peters got an escape with under a minute remaining in the second period against McGuire (23-4) by riding him out in the third period.
“I knew I would have what it takes, but I just had to wrestle hard and keep pushing the pace,” Peters said. “I have some stuff to work on with that match, I could have done some things better. But overall, I wrestled well, and I think that rideout just really did well for me.”
Peters knows he’ll have to win plenty of close matches like he did Saturday if he wants to end his season in Hershey.
“It means a lot, because when you get to regionals and states, all those kids are high-caliber kids. You’re only going to win by a point or two,” said Peters. “So those rideouts, and those close matches are gonna mean a lot going into the placing rounds and so on.”
Clymer knows all about what it’s like to place at states. He’s done it the last two seasons, and placed third a year ago.
The senior has delivered in every possible way so far this season, including winning a title at the Bethlehem Holiday Classic in December.
But the Coal Cracker marked one of Clymer’s few setbacks a year ago, a 7-4 loss to Scranton’s Burgette in the 152-pound semifinals.
Clymer atoned for that loss in impressive fashion Saturday.
After a scoreless first period, Clymer turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead entering the fourth period. Clymer scored another takedown in the waning seconds to provide the final score.
“I thought I wrestled well,” said Clymer, who was third a year ago. “Yesterday, I felt a little sloppy, but it was the first day. Then I opened it up with (Panther Valley’s) Tanner Kennedy (in the semifinals) who I only beat 2-0 at districts, so I knew it was going to be close. I was able to push it a lot harder on my feet, and was able to come out with a 6-0 victory.
“And then to beat Burgette (28-7) there at the end, that was just the icing on the top. It felt good.”
The victory kept Clymer undefeated and moved his season record to 28-0. But he knows there’s still work to be done.
“I am comfortable, but I feel like I still need to get a little bit better on my feet, as far as movement and hitting my fakes,” Clymer said. “So just a little bit more movement on my feet, and I’ll be ready for the postseason.
“But as of right now, I can’t really complain coming out of here still getting first. Just definitely keep working on my feet, and everything should come together nicely.”
An offensive-minded approach is something Northwestern head coach Jim Moll wants Clymer to have heading into the postseason.
“The more he opens up, the better he wrestles,” said Moll. “And that’s it. That’s all he’s got to do. Clean up a few things, and he should have a real good shot at a state title.
“He still didn’t wrestle his best match, but he did enough to win. And that’s always good, when you can win a match.”
The following Northwestern wrestlers finished the tournament in the top eight: Jackson Bernhard (152, third), Colin Rex (138, fourth), Jake Dellicker (106, fifth), Quinn Moyer (220, fifth), Harrison Bernhard (126, seventh) and Ryan Havercamp (170, eighth).
Midd-West won the team title with 177 points. Northwestern was second in the 32-team tournament with 168.5 points.
“We wrestled really hard,” said Moll. “It’s a good tournament, a tough tournament with lots of teams and a lot of really good wrestlers. It’s good. It’s nice to get into a tournament where you’re going to get a bunch of matches – and a bunch of tough matches – because otherwise you go into the postseason not having that, and not being prepared for that. So that’s why we’re here,” said Moll.