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NW’s Clymer captures D-11 gold

Dalton Clymer knows the company he keeps.

Growing up in a wrestling family, the Northwestern freshman never had to look too far for advice.

Or motivation.

While brothers Caleb, Ben, Scott and Bobby were each decorated in their own right, the youngest Clymer is ready to carve his own path.

That process took another step forward on Sunday when he claimed the District 11 Class 2A title at 145 pounds.

Clymer did it with a 4-1 decision over Catasauqua’s Jaryn Hartranft in the final, joining Caleb and Scott who won district titles as freshmen.

“I really tried not to look at who the opponent was, who was coming up,” he said. “It’s been a difficult year, so the only goal was to make it to the next step; keep winning; keep competing.

“The goal was to make it to regionals, and I did that. Now the goal is to make it to the next step after that.”

Clymer, who was seeded fourth, knocked off top seed Aaron Coccio 3-2 in the semis.

Against Hartranft, the freshman got a takedown in the first period to take a 2-0 lead before pushing his advantage to 4-0 with two back points in the third.

“I really didn’t have a plan, just kind of setting up a shot, whatever came first,” said Clymer. “The takedown, I think was a single-leg, kind of a little bit of a misdirection which was huge to start off those first points and feel a little bit more comfortable.”

Hartranft got an escape in the final minute and then nearly had a reversal but Clymer was able to work out of it.

It was the type of mat awareness not always seen from a freshman, but something that was no surprise for Clymer, whose family has helped him develop that base.

“I’ve been wrestling for a long time, but they are the reason that in certain situations, like riding from top, they are the reasons why I’m at where I’m at,” he said. “All of my brothers have been huge with that, coming up and working with me in the room, or going down to wrestle with them somewhere.

“They’ve all made me the priority to make me the best I can be, which I am super appreciative of.”

Scott and Ben were also two-time regional champions, and both also won state titles. Scott accomplished the feat in 2006, while Ben did so in 2008.

Caleb was a three-time district champion and won a state title in 2018 after placing third as a junior and sixth as a sophomore. He was also a regional champ his senior year.

Dalton scored early again in his match with Coccio, getting a first period takedown for a 2-0 lead.

The Tamaqua senior, who was also unbeaten entering the tournament, tied it with a reversal in the third period, but Clymer got an escape in the final 0:02 to seal the win.

His performances in the tournament also helped him earn the Most Outstanding Wrestler for the tournament.

“I don’t think he needed a confidence boost, he’s got confidence,” said Tigers’ head coach Jim Moll. “But I think it’s validation for himself that now he belongs here.

“When I joined the staff at Northwestern, I think he was three, so to make myself feel old. So he’s been in the wrestling room, running around, jumping on bigger kids since he’s three years old.”

And now the youngest Clymer can add to his family’s already-overflowing trophy case that’s likely not about to stop growing anytime soon.

Clymer’s accomplishment was one that highlighted a district tournament that saw six area wrestlers advance to next week’s regional event.

Tamaqua’s Gabe Erbe (106) and Nate Wickersham (215), along with Northern Lehigh’s Brenden Smay (113), Lehighton’s Lukas Ferguson (126) and Jim Thorpe’s Derek Hunter (285) all moved on.

All five advanced to the championship finals, but Erbe, Wickersham and Smay all won true-second place matches to move on.

Wickersham and Smay were the top seeds in their weight classes and undefeated coming into the tournament.

With the regional tournament only taking two wrestlers from District 11 this year instead of four, it made moving on in the postseason that much more difficult.

Wickersham and Smay won their bouts in overtime.

A state medalist last season, Wickersham topped Notre Dame Green Pond’s Jason Sine 7-5 (SV) to advance after trailing late.

Wickersham got a point when Sine was called for stalling and tied it with an escape.

“When he took me down to go up 5-3, I saw that when he first shot and first got to the leg, he was kind of back on his weight a little bit,” said Wickersham, who was eighth at states last season. “So when he took that shot in overtime, I gave him a little hip bump and I got him back on to his butt to where I could score points instead of him driving into me and scoring on me again.”

Wickersham fell 2-1 to Saucon Valley’s Dante Mahaffey in the finals.

“To come back after losing in the finals giving up a stall point, it weighs heavily on your mind,” said Blue Raiders head coach Jim McCabe. “And then to be in another battle where you’re down and now you push the kid to give up stall points in order to give yourself the opportunity to get into the overtime, and then capitalize is the best possible opportunity and he was able to do that.”

Smay bounced back after falling to Notre Dame Green Pond’s Adam Schweitzer 7-0 in the finals to top Lehighton’s Aiden Gruber 3-2 (TB2) in the true second-place match.

“This is definitely an improvement from last year,” said Smay. “The goal is still the same, to make it to the state tournament.”

After losing by technical fall to Notre Dame Green Pond’s Ayden Smith in the finals, Erbe, a freshman, rebounded with an 8-0 major decision against North Schuylkill’s Noah Gilgore to move on.

“I had beaten him before but anything can happen in a match so I didn’t want to be too confident,” said Erbe. “I just tried to go in there like it was any other kid.

“This was just a big goal for me, to place and move on to regionals.”

Ferguson was pinned by Notre Dame’s Evan Maag in the finals, while Hunter dropped a 3-2 decision to Pen Argyl’s Aiden Compton.

While both were disappointed with the losses, they were relieved to be going on.

Ferguson has enjoyed a breakout season that saw him carry an unblemished record into the tournament.

“This was my first time pretty much down at this weight,” said Ferguson. “I came in thinking I might be a little bit stronger than some of the kids.

“I was weighing around 130 all year and then the Pen Argyl match we got another two pounds and I figured I might as well go down to 126 for this because I wasn’t sure which weight class I was going to go into, 126 or 132. So this is a big confidence booster.”

Compton got an escape in the second period before Hunter scored a takedown midway through the period. Another escape by Compton shortly thereafter provided the difference.

Hunter returned to the Olympians’ lineup late in the season, logging just a handful of matches.

The late start was something he wasn’t sure would come.

“Coming off football, I ended up tearing a ligament in my shoulder, and I had some other things going on with my shoulder that I needed surgery for,” said Hunter. “I was cleared a few weeks ago, and I just wanted to come out and compete and do the best that I could.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given and I’m just excited to try to get as far as I can get.”

HONORED … McCabe was named the Class 2A Coach of the Year. “Coach McCabe definitely deserves it,” said Wickersham. “He does outstanding things for us all year long, helping us whether we need life advice, wrestling advice, he’s just a really great coach and very deserving of it. I think that he definitely is the coach of the year.”

TEAM STANDINGS … Notre Dame won the team title with 266 points, followed by Saucon Valley (176.5), Tamaqua (113), Palisades (96) and Lehighton (93.5). Northern Lehigh (59.5) was 10th, followed by Jim Thorpe (55) and Northwestern (52.5) in 11th and 12th, respectively. Palmerton (32) was 16th.

ROUGH TOURNEY ... Pleasant Valley had a tough go of it in the 3A field. The Bears’ James Syracuse (seeded sixth at 172) posted his team’s only win in the championship bracket with a pin of Liberty’s Xavian Ramos in the first round. Syracuse, however, suffered a 7-0 loss to third-seeded Wayne McIntyre of ES North in the quarterfinals. PV’s other five entries in the tourney all suffered falls in their first-round matchups.

Northwestern's Dalton Clymer controls Aaron Coccio of Tamaqua during their 145-pound semifinal matchup. Clymer won a 3-2 decision and went on to capture a district championship. MIKE FEIFEL/TIMES NEWS
Jim Thorpe's Derek Hunter, left, and Northern Lehigh's Josh Schaffer lock up during their 285-pound semifinal matchup. Hunter eventually won a 6-4 decision. MIKE FEIFEL/TIMES NEWS
Tamaqua's Nate Wickersham battles Austin Winters of Palisades during their 215-pound semifinal matchup. MIKE FEIFEL/TIMES NEWS