Owen Advances to Semis, Faces Craig in Re-match

HERSHEY – Bison heavyweight Sean Owen has made his “Chocolatetown” appearances short and sweet in Hershey’s Giant Center.

“It’s what we wanted him to do. We wanted him on and off the mat as soon as possible. (By doing so), it doesn’t allow other people to scout and watch you, or to get any idea of what you’re doing. He went out and took care of business,” head coach Jeff Aveni said.

Owen, who has only seen one minute and 15 seconds of mat time in two bouts, pinned Hampton’s Joe Raimondi for a spot in Saturday morning’s semifinal round.

The returning state champion took down the Southwest Regional Runner-up and cradled him for the fall. The end came at the 1:06 mark.

“It was kind of funny. He locks it up and looks over after he can’t pin the guy. I was like ‘get your belly on his face.’ He readjusts, gets his belly on his face and pins him,” Aveni said.

“I’ve never seen a kid who can look to the corner, while he is wrestling and say “OK, that’s what I’ll do” and then does it. He’s just an incredible wrestler, and his mindset is outstanding. He’s just Sean.”

Owen kept his perfect record intact and is now 41-0 on the season with 33 by fall. With the “W,” he has matched last season’s performance with the most wins by a Clearfield wrestler in a single season.

In a re-match of last year’s championship final, the Bison will meet Abington Heights’ Evan Craig in a looked forward to battle. Craig is currently 39-0 on the season and sits below Owen in both the PA Power and Wrestling Rankings.

Aveni said that his heavyweight’s mindset for the match will not differ from any other.

“I’m sure that he’s looked at it, but we haven’t even talked about it. After his match, we watched a little bit of (Craig’s) and kind of got an idea. We have some film that we’ll watch,” he said.

“But he’s got to go out on the mat with the same attitude that he’s had all year long – I’m going out to pin him. If he does that, it’s when Sean looks great.\”

Aveni said that Owen’s pinning attitude has been evident in his performances.

“He’s been putting kids on their backs, and that can cause a lot of havoc down here. He’s going out there and doesn’t want to just beat the guy. He wants to pin him. And, that’s what he’s doing,” he said.

At 119, Clearfield’s Andrew Spicer had his tournament come to a close after a 2-0 loss to Mitchell Minotti (Easton, 33-9) in the second consolation round.

Spicer fought off a Minotti takedown with a strong wizzer, refusing to give up the two at the end of one.

Unable to get any movement, the Bison couldn’t score off the bottom in the second. The score was knotted at zero at the start of the final period.

“We knew that it was going to be close and would be a battle. Usually, Spicer can get off the bottom. The kid was deep on the tight waist on him, and we couldn’t get that cleared,” Aveni said.

“If he doesn’t get his hips moving, he has a tough time getting off the bottom. Maybe, if he had gotten a little more movement off the whistle, but the way it turned out he couldn’t.”

Minotti, however, would manage a reversal in the third for the win. The Easton sophomore is ranked fourth and ninth in the PA Wrestling and Power Rankings, respectively.

“He switched on me, and I did a re-switch, but I didn’t get my hips out far enough. He kind of ended up on top of me. I put the legs in on him and tried to hang on for a while. But I eventually just slipped off enough for him to get it,” Spicer said.

Aveni said that it was a tough loss for the Bison senior. He said that he and his staff have been pulling for him throughout the post-season.

“You know he’s wrestled his butt off and was one match away, down 2-0 in the medal round of states. What can you say? He’s just had an outstanding post-season,” Aveni said.

“I told him that we are proud of what he did. You always want to say that you left everything out there on the mat. He did that. He should be very satisfied with what he did down here in the years to come. He won’t have any regrets.”

Aveni noted that his senior nearly gave up the sport earlier this season. He said that he’s a great kid and bounced back, when it most counted.

“He showed that when he’s got his head on straight, he can compete with everyone else right here. I can see the difference between him in the beginning of the season and the end,” he said.

Spicer said that he, too, was pleased with his overall efforts. He said that in mid-season, he didn’t believe that he’d even make the trip to Hershey.

“I didn’t think that I had a good chance of coming down here. (When I did though), I thought that I’d maybe go two and out or win one match at the most. But I didn’t think that I’d wrestle as well as I did,” he said.

He said that he performed at a higher level, while he had gained his last chance to do so.

“It felt really, really great to make it. It was probably the highlight of my wrestling career and a very exciting moment for me. It gave me a little more strength and courage,” Spicer said, adding that it was “awesome” to win a match in the state tournament and an accomplishment for himself.

Spicer, who finished his season 27-16, said that he plans to attend Penn State – DuBois campus with an elementary education major. He also said that he’d compete for the school’s new wrestling team.

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