Clymer grabs state gold
Caleb Clymer saved his best for last.
A dominant force throughout this season and his career, the Northwestern senior turned in a virtuoso performance Saturday at the PIAA Championships.
Clymer was masterful in his 160-pound final against Port Allegany’s Jacob Kallenborn, rolling to an 8-0 major decision victory and his first state title.
“Maybe it was a little bit of the adrenaline kind of going on, but I was able to just focus on my match,” said Clymer, who was third at states a year ago and sixth as a sophomore. “My shots were nice and crisp. I had a nice misdirection right there to open it up, and I was able to have a nice mat return.
“I was just focused on wrestling six hard minutes.”
Clymer (43-1) opened it up right away with a big takedown on Kallenborn (39-2) in the first period before adding a reversal midway through the second period to extend his lead to 4-0. Clymer padded his advantage with four points before the final buzzer in the third period.
“It’s (my) senior year,” he said. “I had nothing to lose and nothing to hold back so I left it all on the mat. No regrets. I went out there and did what I needed to do. I wanted to win, and I wanted to win by a lot. In past years, it was like, all right I’m gonna win by three, two points, it is what it is. I’ll take it. That’s when you lose the close matches, because they catch up with you … that’s all I was focused on was scoring points.”
Clymer outscored his opponents 20-1 in four matches at the state tournament.
But it was his performance in the final that was most impressive.
“I wrestled well in the first match,” he said of the 5-0 win. “But in the finals match I put together riding it out on top, getting to my bar, getting to my tight-waist tilt.
“And then especially on my feet, getting to my misdirections and being crisp on that, which is what I’ve been working on this entire season. So for it to payoff in the last match for a state title, it’s definitely awesome.”
It’s a journey that Northwestern head coach Jim Moll has been happy to be a part of, and one he was proud to see end with a state championship.
“It was awesome,” said Moll. “I’m real happy for Caleb. He put in a ton of work. Not just through the season, but work at home with (brothers) Ben, Scotty and Bobby. He put a lot of time in to earn that gold medal.”
Moll has been in Clymer’s corner since he won a district title as a freshman in spectacular fashion, pinning Tyler Marsh of Palisades in the 138-pound final.
“It’s just been fun,” the coach said. “Ever since freshman year when he had a great district tournament to win his first district title as a freshman, the way he did it, it’s just been fun.
“He’s fun to watch wrestle. We talked about it before, he’s just good at wrestling in every situation. And he wrestled to win. He didn’t wrestle scared. He wrestled like he wanted to win a gold medal.”
Four years in the making, Clymer’s journey to the top step of the podium at the Giant Center came full circle on Saturday.
“Definitely, right before the match I was definitely a little nervous,” Clymer said. “But as soon as you step on the mat it’s like, ‘This is it. I’ve got nothing to lose, and whatever happens, happens.’
“Win or lose, give all the praise and honor and glory to God. And I was able to go out there and get the win.”
Clymer ends his Northwestern career with a four-year record of 144-23.
The Tigers had four wrestlers compete in Hershey last weekend.
Senior Matt Peters (132) reached the third-round consolations before falling 10-1 to Anthony Corrado (Burrell).
For Peters, who was at states for the first time since his freshman season after battling injuries the last two years, the opportunity to finish his career in Hershey was one he didn’t take for granted.
“It’s been exciting,” said Peters. “It’s a roller coaster out here. Everybody wants to win, and sometimes there are obstacles and dreams come short.
“But there’s more to life than this sport. I wrestled my heart out. I didn’t come away with the goal I wanted, but you can’t hang your head. You just gotta keep moving forward.”
Peters was happy to be at states again and to experience it with three of his teammates.
“It’s nice because we all push each other and joke around,” Peters said. “We’re all seniors and we’re all just having a good time.
“The biggest part is just having a good time, with a good group off friends around you, pushing you when you can’t push yourself anymore. They help you keep your head high even you don’t get what you want. They’re always there for you.”
Northwestern senior Jackson Bernhard also lost by major decision, falling 15-3 to Peyton Hearn (Conneaut Area) in his 152-pound consolation match.
“It was a surreal experience,” said Bernhard. “There definitely was a lot of nostalgia with guys I’ve wrestled with my whole life.
“I was going in for my match and (teammate) Colin (Rex) was wrestling. And I just kept thinking it was the last match he was going to wrestle, and I was there when he wrestled his first match. And then I thought the same thing with Matt. It was definitely really emotional to know that it’s over.”
Rex (138) was eliminated from the state tournament Friday morning when he lost a 4-3 decision to Tyler Feltman (Juniata) in the 138-pound consolation bracket. Rex stayed alive Thursday with an 8-4 decision over Wyalusing’s Luke O’Connor in a first round consolation match.