WILLIAMSPORT — If there was any doubt that the Clearfield Bison wrestling team would be an improved bunch over last year’s squad, that doubt has, for now, been laid to rest.
At the 2014 Tom Best Memorial Top Hat Tournament, the Bison finished 10th out of 19 teams and had six wrestlers finish in the top-8. This year’s team placed fourth out of 20 teams and placed 11 in the top-8.
The Bison accumulated 150.5 team points, to just be edged out of third place by Hazelton’s 152.5 points. Jersey Shore claimed the team title with 201 points over Central Mountain’s 181.
Perhaps the only negative that can be taken away from the opening season action is the fact that only five Bisons met or exceeded their pre-tourney seeds.
One who met expectations was sophomore 170 pounder Luke McGonigal. McGonigal put a disappointing 2014 Top Hat Tourney behind him to claim the 170 pound crown this year. Last year McGonigal placed sixth at 152 after being injured and having to injury default his final two matches. Luke left no doubt this year as he recorded three falls en route to the finals and then disposed of Central Mountain’s Caleb Turner by an 11-2 major decision.
McGonigal had to be in the running for the tournament Outstanding Wrestler, but that honor went to 145 pound Owen Wherley of South Western High School.
McGonigal was followed on the medal stand by third-place finisher Travis Ogden, a senior 195 pounder. Ogden, not yet at full strength after football season and surgery two weeks ago, lost in the semifinals but came back to win 7-5 over Hazelton’s Carson Kinney in the consolation finals.
Next in line was 106 pound sophomore “Mini” Matt Ryan. Ryan went 3-2 to place fourth, an improvement over his eighth place finish from a year ago in his varsity wrestling debut.
At 113 pounds, freshman Jude Pallo had quite the impressive start to his young wrestling career. Pallo, the number eight seed, recorded four wins against two losses to place fifth. Pallo was the third Bison to win his final match of the tourney with an 8-3 win over number six seed Adam Leib of South Western.
Alec Graham, an unseeded 120 pound sophomore making his varsity debut after being injured all of last year, went 2-2 to place seventh. He picked up a fall in 57 seconds over Collin Dincher of Montoursville in his medal match.
The four Bison directly in the middle of the line-up from 138 to 160 each placed sixth.
Josiah McClarren at 138 was only one of the four to reach the championship semifinals, but then lost his final three matches after a 2-0 start.
145 pounder Logan Gilbert picked up a couple of falls in the wrestlebacks to come back for sixth.
Tallin Norris at 152 improved upon his eighth place finish from a year ago by placing sixth.
At 160, junior Zane Morgan was the fourth Bison to finish equal or higher than his seed. The number eight seed, Morgan won two consolation matches before running in to the number two seeded wrestler in the consy semis, and then lost the fifth place match in over time.
Hunter Bumbarger at 220 was the fifth and final wrestler to improve on his seed. Like classmate Morgan before him, Bumbarger was the number eight seed and won two consy matches, both by fall, to claim sixth place.
Levi Wisor at 182 and Nate Lash at 285 each went 2-3 to finish on the medal stand in eighth place.
|12/04 & 05||Top Hat Tourney @ Williamsport||150.5 pts||4th Place|
|12/08||BALD EAGLE AREA|
|01/08 & 09||Tool City Tourney @ Meadville|
|01/14||@ St. Marys|
|01/23||CLEARFIELD BISON DUALS|
|01/29 & 30||@ West Branch Tourney|
|02/06||District 9 Team Duals|
|02/26 & 27||District 9 Champs @ Clfd HS|
|03/04 & 05||Northwest Regionals @ Altoona|
|03/10-03/12||PIAA States @ Hershey|