Clearfield- Many teams try to schedule “lesser” opponents early in a season, trying to gain an ‘easy’ win and boost confidence. The Clearfield Bison Wrestling coaches believe in trial by fire, and their early season schedule reflects that – they opened the season last weekend with the grueling Top Hat Tournament, and opened their dual meet season Tuesday night facing one of the top teams in central Pennsylvania, the Bellefonte Raiders. Clearfield’s young squad was by and large outmatched by Bellefonte, as the team fell 50-25. However, there were definitely some bright spots for the Bisons.
One of the brightest came immediately, as the first match of the night pitted Clearfield’s Lee Zalno against the Raiders’ Jake Mueller at 189 pounds. Zalno was aggressive from the outset, scoring 2 takedowns in the 1st period and then notching a fall at 2:48, staking the Bisons to a quick 6-0 lead.
Clearfield’s 215-pounder, Andre Buck, was quickly taken down and pinned by Josh Wenzel, the end came at 1:50, knotting the score at 6.
Clearfield’s best wrestler, heavyweight Sean Owen, put on a takedown clinic against Bellefonte’s Kyle Lucas. Owen scored 7 takedowns and an escape, and won handily 15-5; however, Lucas showed a lot of moxie, never letting Owen lock up a pinning combination.
At 103 lbs, Clearfield’s Kodie Lowder made quick work of Jonathan Hopple, pinning him in only 11 seconds.
Next came the heart of Bellefonte’s lineup. At 112 lbs, Mitchell Port took Clearfield freshman Max von Gunden down quickly and pinned him in 52 seconds, giving Bellefonte a lead they would never relinquish.
The next three bouts, Bellefonte flexed their collective muscle. At 119, Nate James pinned Andrew Hill in 2:31. At 125, Garrett Samsel, subbing for an ill Holden Lowe, was pinned by Addison Snyder in 35 seconds. Addison’s twin brother Preston Snyder followed by pinning Shane Harper in 1:13.
At 135, Clearfield got on the board again as senior Richie Queen scored a reversal in each of the first 2 periods, and added a takedown and 3 nearfall points in the third to beat Josh Fishburn 9-2.
140-pounder Dan Henderlong of Clearfield showed a lot of heart and resilience, fighting off his back several times against Garrett Singer before finally succumbing to a fall at 5:29.
Bellefonte’s Shane Altiero was too much for Will Beauseigneur, pinning him in 41 seconds.
At 152, Derek Danver of Clearfield fell behind quickly to the Raiders’ Shane Traxler, trailing 10-1 after 3 minutes, but closed the gap to 10-6 before falling 12-6.
160-pounder Alan Zimmerman showed impressive technique against the Bisons’ Kasey Casher, earning a technical fall 19-4.
The final bout of the evening at 171 pounds went to the Bisons, as Shawn Hall fought off numerous upper-body attacks by Bellefonte’s Ian Musser before turning the tables, muscling Musser to his back and pinning him at 5:53 to set the final score.
Coach Aveni was satisfied with the performance, saying the nine freshmen and sophomores on his squad were “outgunned tonight” but praising Lee Zalno’s aggressiveness and noting Richie Queen’s win. “Richie Queen had good position tonight, and I’m very pleased with his performance”, said Aveni. “Derek [Danver] has gotten into some bad habits, that’s why he fell behind..he’s better than he showed tonight”.
With the loss, Clearfield falls to 0-1 and will host Bradford next Tuesday. The varsity match is set to begin at 7PM.