Clymer earns regional gold
Caleb Clymer might not have liked his start. But the Northwestern senior loved the finish.
Clymer shook off a sluggish start to power past Northern Lebanon’s Blaise Bressler 9-7 in the 160-pound final Saturday at the PIAA Class 2A Southeast Regional wrestling tournament. The win gave Clymer his first regional title after runner-up finishes last year and as a freshman.
“I’ve never gotten one yet until now,” said Clymer, who won his third District 11 title last week. “Both my brothers are regional champions. Bobby (Clymer) did extremely well in it. So again just to kind of join my brothers with another family thing feels good.”
Pushing the pace and controlling the tempo have been key for Clymer throughout this postseason. But Bressler took charge from the whistle, putting Clymer on his heels and his back.
“I definitely came out a little slow off the bat, and got caught on my back,” Clymer said. “But he was strong, I gotta give it to him. He had a nice shot, and then he countered nice with a, kind of came up with a cradle, so kudos to him, it was nice.
“But I was able to fight (it) off. I wasn’t really panicking. I knew I could come back. I was able to get the reversal right away, and then another reversal with some back points, and then another set of back (points) right at the end of the second.”
Knowing that he can work his way out of a bind against an opponent like Bressler, the District 3 champion at 160 pounds who entered the tournament 46-5, gives Clymer even more confidence heading into this week’s state tournament.
“It definitely makes me feel good, knowing if something were to happen like that out at states I could do it,” said Clymer. “But then again, it goes right back to the wrestling room. I’ve gotten put in that position before by some of my teammates, a lot of the lighter ones, like Colin Rex. He threw me the other day and put me to my back.
“It’s just little things like that, that helps in practice when you can (it) fight off and get better in those positions. It also helps having teammates like that who always have your back and go hard with you in the room.”
Down 5-0 in a regional final is anything but ideal. But it might have been the wakeup call Clymer needed before he heads to Hershey for the final time.
“That kid (Bressler) came out ready to wrestle, and Caleb maybe didn’t,” said Northwestern head coach Jim Moll. “He wasn’t ready on the line.
“But it woke him up. It shows a lot though to be able to battle back against a kid that good, to come back, down five. It’s huge.”
Clymer has checked all the boxes so far this postseason. One more objective remains: A state title.
“One match at a time,” said Clymer, who was third at states a year ago. “Just focusing on that first match, then after I get that one out of the way, then I focus on the next match.”
Northwestern’s Jackson Bernhard also reached the regional finals. Bernhard lost a 14-5 major decision to Pen Argyl’s Chase Anklam in the 152-pound championship match. The contest was a rematch of last week’s district final, which Anklam also won.
“It’s nice to see a familiar face,” Bernhard said with a laugh. “We always have a good battle.”
While Bernhard was disappointed with the loss, he was happy to get through the regional tournament unscathed and qualify for states for the second year in a row.
“This tournament, I see it mostly as a stepping stone for states,” said Bernhard, who picked up his 100th career victory in the semifinals. “It’s really just about getting to the next spot. So I’m glad I did that. I put everything I had out there.”
The Tigers have an area best four wrestlers headed to next week’s state tournament. Colin Rex (138) advanced with a fifth-place finish, while Matt Peters (132) punched his ticket to Hershey by placing sixth.
Rex qualified for the second straight year, while Peters is going to Hershey for the first time since his freshman season.
“It’s great,” said Rex, who was sixth at last year’s regional tournament. “I’ve been working on it all season.”
“I think this is the best tournament [Colin Rex] ever wrestled,” said Moll. “Consistent the whole time. Wrestled real hard through everything. He’s got a lot of confidence heading to states. It’s coming at the right time of the year.”
District 11 had five regional champions. In addition to Clymer, Saucon Valley’s Josh Jones (126), Palisades’ Nathan Haubet (145), Chase Anklam (152) and Tri Valley’s Danny Scheib (285) all left with gold medals.