CLEARFIELD – While Clearfield certainly had its positive and negative outcomes over the weekend, there was no contesting the best outcome of the night being Bison senior Luke McGonigal (29-0) simultaneously tech-falling/pinning his finals opponent before he jumped up and flashed four fingers on both of his hands. McGonigal has been the tour de force of the Bison wrestling team over the past four years, and he ended his final match in the Arthur Weiss Gymnasium in the very best possible fashion you could dream of.
On the upside of the day, five Bison wrestlers made it to the finals. On top of McGonigal at 195, were sophomore Peyton Smay (11-13) at 113, senior Matt Ryan (24-7) at 120, junior Caleb Freeland (17-10) at 152, and senior Hunter Wright (23-10) at 160.
To reach the finals, Peyton Smay won a hard fought 5-4 decision over Williamsport’s Martin Bryant. He gave up a takedown early on, but Smay then battled back and held on for the win. In the finals, however, Smay couldn’t come away with the win over Shikellamy’s Jared Zartmen, where he lost 4-3. Smay wrestled well on the mat, but he gave up two takedowns on his feet.
Then senior Matt Ryan (24-7) won his semi-finals match with a fall over Selinsgrove’s Scott Kissinger in just 1:53. In the finals, Ryan looked extremely dominant over Frank Quinones, avenging Jude Pallo’s loss to him earlier in the season by racking up nine takedowns in his match for a 19-9 victory.
Caleb Freeland reached the finals by besting Alec Dickey, of Williamsport, 10-5 in his semi-finals bout. Freeland looked extremely smooth on his takedown attempts, converting multiple single leg takedowns. But in the finals, Freeland seemed like a different wrestler, being extremely defensive, and he lost 5-0 to Shikellamy’s Noah Supsic.
Hunter Wright wrestled a good semi-finals match against Saint Marys’ Tim Beimel, pinning him in 3:57. In the finals match, Wright was deep on several shots against Selinsgrove’s Coy Bastian, but he couldn’t capitalize. On the mat, Wright was held down the entire second, and he gave up an escape to Bastian in the third period to lose 1-0. It was a tough loss to see, as Wright wrestled well, but perhaps he was just a bit too stiff and nervous.
Finally, Luke McGonigal had an outstanding tournament. After receiving a bye in the first round, McGonigal stacked up Williamsport’s Jamaire Burget and got a quick 40 second fall.
Heading into the finals, McGonigal made wrestling a solid Selinsgrove Blaise Zeiders look like a drilling practice. Up 11-0 after the first period by using a takedown and a plethora of back points, the second period started in neutral. McGonigal used a tie up and hooks to finish off Zeiders, using incredible wit rarely seen by high schoolers. In a span of 15 seconds, McGonigal attempted to take down Zeiders in three different ways, carefully analyzing and moving from one setup to another in his tie up before Zeiders tried to throw him. Zeiders ended up on his own back, and McGonigal got the fall in 2:29.
With McGonigal’s 129th win this season, he is now only seven wins away from tying the all-time Clearfield wins record set by Matthew Kyler back in 2006, and only six wins from besting Sean Owen, a former Bison wrestler who was also in the program Saturday night for being inducted in the District IX Hall of Fame. Doing some scratch paper math, because McGonigal received a bye in his first round of districts, if he wins out at regionals and at states, he will tie for the record with Kyler.
Other place winners this weekend were junior Jude Pallo (17-14) at 126, sophomore Nate Barr (10-11) at 138, and junior Avry Gisewhite (18-14) at 220.
Jude Pallo wrestled well, losing his initial championship match before rattling off two victories in a row afterwards to take third place. Pallo pinned Selinsgrove’s Walker Garden in 1:33 and tech-falled Saint Marys’ Greg Tettis 17-1.
Nate Barr took fourth place, winning his consi-semi match against DuBois’ Garrett Starr 3-0. In the consi-finals, Barr lost 7-4 to the number one seed John Wittman of Saint Marys, but Barr actually out-wrestled Wittman in the second and third periods. Wittman was up 7-0 at the end of the first period when Barr came alive, and if Barr can wrestle like he did in the final four minutes of the match, he could pleasantly surprise himself next week in the regional tournament.
Avry Gisewhite also took fourth place, going 2-2 by winning his opening match against Punxsutawney’s Jacob Shuckers by fall in 5:33 and DuBois’ Alex O’Harah in 3:31 in his consolation semi’s match.
Unfortunately, four Bison lost out this weekend and won’t be making the trip to regionals. Freshman Angelo Maines at 106, senior Quentin Edwards at 132, junior Cole Smay at 145 and sophomore Brett Zattoni at 170 all lost out prior to reaching a medal round.
Maines will return next year with an 8-19 record. Zattoni will take a 4-14 record into his junior year. Cole Smay went 1-1 this weekend and will enter his senior year with an overall record of 19-38. Finally, Edwards finished his career 14-35, with 11 of his wins coming this season.
Overall, the Bison placed fifth out of seven teams over the weekend with 118.5 points, while DuBois was able to roar back from a dual team title loss earlier in February and capture a District IV/IX championship with 149 points. In second place was Selinsgrove with 146 points, Shikellamy garnered 132.5 points for third place, and Saint Marys took fourth place with 122 points. Finally, Williamsport scored 110 points for sixth place, and Punxsutawney placed seventh with 35 points.
Clearfield’s eight remaining wrestlers will return to action on Friday night in Altoona for the PIAA Northwest Regional Championships. The top three wrestlers in each weight class will move on to the PIAA State Championships, and you only face good competition from here on out, with each round getting tougher than the last.
Full results for the AA and AAA District IV/IX Championships, courtesy of FloWrestling, can be found here.
Bison Records (as of 02/24/18)