CLARION — In a pair of solid, well-wrestled and exciting title bouts, the Punxsy pair of Joel Bowers and Kaleb Young grabbed District IX/IV gold on Saturday night.
The wrestlers used two very different routes to capture their top placings.
Bowers took down his 120-pound Clearfield foe in the first minute and controlled the match from that point in a 7-0 shutout.
In the 126 championship, Young, on the other hand, had to keep moving quickly to fend off Clearfield’s Dylan Graham overtime rush into his own gold-winning, point-producing takedown.
Along with the two title winners, the Chucks’ Perry Arrington (138) fought to the end but did not receive the takedown confirmation and fell, 3-1, in his title tilt.
Although not equal to last winter’s 10, Punxsy will send three others along with its trio of title match participants.
The Chucks’ Andrew Bullers (113), Josh Shuckers (132) and Jeff Bottenhorn (145) all placed fourth over the district tournament event.
With the addition of the four District IV schools this year, the top four district placers make the trip this Friday and Saturday down to Altoona for the regional competition.
“We are sending six to regionals. When looking back over the course of the weekend, we did well,” said Chucks head coach Eric Eddy.
In the final team standings, Punxsy garnered fifth place with 95 points in the nine-team field. DuBois swept away the AAA team top spot by 59 points over Clearfield, 182.5 to 123.5.
After receiving a first-round bye, the top-seed Bowers had an easy Friday night without having to take the mat.
On Saturday morning, the junior didn't work up much of a sweat.
He put Shikellamy’s Tyler Hepler onto his back for the pin in only 1:36.
The victory gave Bowers the rest of the day off until his title match.
In the 120-pound title match, Bowers defended an initial shot in by Clearfield’s Noah Cline.
Bowers was able to secure the first points with his own takedown 55 seconds into the first period and rode Cline the rest of the two-minute frame.
Starting at neutral, Bowers fought off a Cline charge and turned it into his own takedown with 1:08 in the second period.
The Chucks' wrestler escaped in the first 10 seconds of the final period and put an exclamation mark on the match with a final two-point takedown with 1:01 remaining and the eventual 7-0 victory.
The title is Bowers' first of his career after capturing third place at 113 last season.
“Bowers wrestled a very business-like match. He beat Cline, 3-0, at New Oxford. Tonight, he didn’t try to do anything but what he needed to do to win and did a nice job,” said Eddy. “He actually set the stage in the follow-up match tonight (Saturday).”
This follow-up match had Bowers’ teammate, Young, taking the limelight right after him.
Earlier in on Saturday, Young shut out Jersey Shore’s Colton Killion, 11-0, to earn his spot in the finals.
In the third meeting of the season, the freshman Young faced his senior Bison competition. The first two bouts were sparring matches but nothing like the classic, which would unfold Saturday night.
At Clearfield, Graham clinched the bout’s lone takedown in overtime for a 3-1 win over Young, who was wrestling only his second varsity match.
In early January at New Oxford, the Punxsy product would learn from the first meeting.
The pair wrestled to a 5-5 score, but Young pulled out the win due to a stalling point being called on Graham for the title of the tournament.
On Saturday evening, Young came out the aggressor.
Kaleb shot in and took the Clearfield grappler out of bounds consistently but saw the first period end without a point scored.
Starting in the down position, Graham escaped in the first five seconds to break the deadlock.
The margin remained 1-0 until 1:24 left in the match saw Young pull off his own escape from being down for the tie at one.
Neither wrestler was able to score in the final minute to force overtime.
In the one-minute extra period, the two kept battling for control until Graham, who would not engage the entire match, finally made his move.
The Bison shot in and appeared to secure the winning takedown, but Young kept his momentum going and spun around behind Graham for a two-point takedown for the victory.
It wasn’t the Punxsy crowd in the upper section cheering Young the loudest but his assistant coach father, Buddy, who started dancing up and down the the side of the mat.
After Kaleb had his arm raised in victory, the two hugged near the center of the mat.
“It was their third time meeting, and Graham is a strong wrestler. Kaleb shot him out of bounds over and over in the first and second periods. It was tight in overtime but Kaleb was able to use a Granby (roll) and came up with the ankle for the takedown,” explained Eddy. “I am biased but maybe that was the match of the weekend. At least, they will be on opposite sides of the bracket at regionals.”
The third Punxsy title match proved to be just as exciting.
In the 138 match, Arrington would face DuBois’ Garrett Brown. The two produced an intense bout the previous Thursday in DuBois, which Brown was given a 7-4 decision win.
The two exchanged shots through the first period, but the first two minutes ended scoreless.
Arrington put the first point on the board with an escape in 29 seconds of the second period. The score became tied, 1-1, when Brown was awarded a penalty point for an illegal scissors hold by Arrington, as the Punxsy wrestler was fighting off a potential takedown.
Brown edged ahead in the opening moments of the third period with an escape to make it 2-1. The Beaver was given a second penalty point for an illegal hold with 20 seconds left.
Arrington made a last attempt to tie the match and rushed in against Brown. He took Brown down at the edge of the circle and kept his feet in bounds but was not given the match-tying points as the buzzer sounded to end the match by the 3-1 final.
“Arrington wrestled a heck of a match. He gave up two penalty points in what was a 1-1 match,” said the Punxsy coach. “Unfortunately, he didn’t get the takedown call (from the referee) that would have sent it to overtime.”
In the semifinals, Arrington scored the only six points to blank St. Marys’ Alex Coudriet, 6-0.
The Chucks had another trio in the Consolation Finals.
The first Punxsy consolation finalist was Bullers at 113.
Following a semifinal fall to top-seed Bryce Swauger of DuBois, Bullers rebounded by pinning Dylan Kremer of Shikellamy in 39 seconds.
Bullers moved into the consolation final against Allen Saar of Jersey Shore. Leading 2-0, Kremer added three takedowns in the second period to open an 8-2 margin.
The difference grew to 12-3 before Bullers reversed the control with 56 seconds. He could not make a bigger dent in the final seconds to drop the match, 14-6.
In the 132 semifinal, Shuckers was edged by second-seed Tristan Paul from Shikellamy. The Punxsy junior wrestled back with a win.
Shuckers went ahead with a first-period takedown before recording a 4-0 shutout of Kyle Pecht of St. Marys.
In the consolation final, Jersey Shore’s Hayden Swartwood secured the first period’s only points with a takedown. Shuckers rode his foe the entire second period but could not score any points.
The Chuck escaped 28 seconds in the final period. Shuckers shot in with 58 left but could not get any points and had the same result with two more firings for the 2-1 tight loss.
“Bullers wrestled phenomenally and Shuckers battled back through today,” commented Eddy.
At 145, Bottenhorn was not able to advance in the semifinals as top-seeded Nolan Barger of Clearfield posted the fall.
The second-year wrestler came back in dramatic fashion. With no score after two periods, D.J. Carney of DuBois scored a reverse.
Bottenhorn answered with his own reverse with 35 seconds left and added three back points for a 5-2 win.
Bottenhorn, though, was stopped from claiming third place. After a no-score first frame, St. Marys’ Tyler Yetzer had a big eight-point second period before finishing with a 10-0 win in the consolation final.
“Bottenhorn had two matches where he hit Petersons to win. He did a nice job hanging in there,” added Eddy.
In the other weight classes, Punxsy had some encouraging results for the future.
At 106, Eli Lambiotte saw a trip to regional action slip through his fingers.
With a one-point lead, Lambiotte saw top-seed Roshaun Cooley of Williamsport turned the tide into a fall with seven seconds left in the semifinal match.
The Punxsy freshman’s frustration grew in his wrestleback bout. Lambiotte trailed 7-4 but could not get the referee to award him points for a move he held for over 30 seconds. He fell by the same score to Jersey Shore’s Noah Ulmer.
“Eli wrestled the number one wrestler and had the 3-2 win with seven seconds. He had the kid in deep with a crotch lock but pulled him over and ended up pinning himself. If he wins there, then it changes things,” explained Eddy. “Eli, then was robbed in the consy semis. He hit a Peterson and held, it but after 37 seconds in the position, the referee said there was no control and didn’t award any points. It was a travesty.”
After splitting his first two matches on Friday, Keegan Fischer was unable to post a second win.
In the consolation second round, Michael Beck of Clearfield notched a fall in 1:32 over the Punxsy sophomore.
Punxsy’s 170-pounder Travis Perry came back in his Saturday morning wrestleback. The Chuck produced a 5-2 victory over Darion Lavanowitz from Selinsgrove with three third-period points.
Perry saw his bid for a regional berth fall one win short. Bradford’s Matthew Moonan scored the bout’s only points with a second period three-point near fall and held Perry scoreless, 3-0.
The lone Punxsy senior, Brandon Wingert, battled hard but, like Perry, came up one victory shy of advancing. Leading 2-1, the 182-pound Wingert reversed Malik Short of Williamsport and turned the move into a pin with 1:21 left in the second period.
Wingert could not make it two Saturday wins in a row against Selinsgrove’s Andrew Boob. In 1:36 into the match, Boob secured the pin over Wingert.
At 220, Austin Covatch was able to move on in the wrestlebacks on Saturday.
The sophomore received a forfeit from Jake Huling of Jersey Shore.
Billy Kennedy of Williamsport prevented Covatch from moving on with a fall in 1:25.
“We just have to go back in the (wrestling) room and get ready for next weekend (at the regionals in Altoona),” said Eddy.