BROOKVILLE — Clarion University senior and former Brookville PIAA state champion Brock Zacherl could ill afford to glance up at his banner during Tuesday night’s bout against Tyshawn Williams.
He had his hands full.
With the Golden Eagles’ win already secure going into the final bout of the night at 149 pounds, Zacherl grinded out a 3-1 overtime decision to finish off a 30-13 win over Mid-Atlantic Conference foe Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
Zacherl was ranked No. 7 in the latest intermatwrestle.com national poll and Williams had a win against Purdue’s Griffin Parriott, who hadn’t beaten Zacherl 4-2 in November.
“Watching film on him, he’s very hard to score on,” Zacherl said afterward. “He’s very low and really strong, so I knew that if I picked up the pace I could beat him up, but obviously I didn’t do that. He kept really great positioning and it was hard to get him to break open. I think I really didn’t take advantage.
“I didn’t take enough shots to really open it up. And I think that’s why the match came down to the wire but all in all, I’m really happy with how composed I was. If I just get the shot volume up that’s the perfect match I need to wrestle at the NCAAs.”
Williams and Zacherl each had escapes, then the only other points were scored near the end of the first overtime period where Zacherl, not long after fighting off a near Williams takedown on the edge of the mat off a flurry, took down Williams to improve to 11-3.
“I relaxed for a split second, and then from there, it’s just a blur. I’m just reacting and relying on my training,” Zacherl said. “I was getting a little bit nervous before this match. I don’t know if it’s being back here. I rarely get nervous, but I you know I calmed myself down by just going out there and play wrestling, have a good time and have fun. And that’s what I did. That was a fun hard fought match.”
Head coach Keith Ferraro’s team also got wins from Mike Bartolo (technical fall) at 165, Max Wohlabaugh (12-5 decision) at 174, Luke Funck (6-5 decision) at 184, Greg Bulsak (pin) at 197, Tyler Bagoly (11-0 major) at heavyweight and Seth Koleno (pin) at 133.
Zacherl was honored for 100 wins at Clarion prior to the match, then was the last bout of the night. He didn’t disappoint a strong crowd, which reacted well to his OT win.
“I’ve always talked about Brookville and how blessed I was to grow up here and be a part of this special culture, team and just the town in general, I love this place,” Zacherl said. “And to come back here and compete against the guy who I believe is top 10, definitely top 15 caliber and win, it’s just something that’s a really special feeling and I’m real happy to be here.”
The Golden Eagles improved to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the MAC. They head to Lexington, Va., Friday to face Virginia Military Institute, MAC foe Cleveland State and California Baptist.
Southern Illinois, which lost 25-15 to Kent State earlier Tuesday, dropped to 1-6 overall and 0-3 in the MAC.
The Golden Eagles also have former Raiders Taylor Ortz, Caleb Hetrick and Gavin Park on the roster. Ortz, the starter at 141, was not in the lineup Tuesday.
The match was slightly delayed due to the lack of an official. Rick Ortz, Taylor’s father, officiated the match.
For Zacherl, it’s a stretch starting this month that he’ll work on to get ready for the postseason. It’s his last one of course, granted to him via a medical red-shirt from the NCAA last April.
“This is all practice for the big tournament. I need to go look at myself in the mirror and ask if I wrestled my best and answer tonight is no,” Zacherl said. “I did a pretty good job, but I need that shot volume to go up. That’s one of my best attributes. I still was able to find a way so I have to get that shot volume up. My movement was pretty good, but I got to get that shot volume up.”
His former high school coach Dave Klepfer, of course, was in the stands after coaching his Raiders to a win over Curwensville earlier in the night. He was thrilled to share the gym with Clarion University.
“It’s pretty neat,” Klepfer said. “Any time you can promote the sport in a positive way, that’s what our sport needs. We need promotion. We need recognition and to have a couple of our former athletes come back to our gym and wrestle another division one school, it’s pretty big.
“Just for our varsity program, but our whole program, 100 kids total, its pretty neat when they get to see the banners up on the wall and then actually put the face to the name in our gym and watch them wrestle and it’s just it’s big. It’s big for the sport. I know it’s big for our program. I’m excited to see it unravel here and he’s going have a good match tonight.”
And Klepfer’s memories of Zacherl in a Raiders singlet go back to his freshman season of 2010-11.
“Brock was a skinny little 14-year-old begging me to wrestle a 3-or-4-time state finalist in a dual meet that was kind of decided at that point,” he said. “That was Reynolds’ Mason Beckman and his 180 or some wins and I had a skinny little ninth-grader asking me to move up against a senior. That was Brock’s demeanor his whole career. He was always seeking out the best kids and that’s why he’s where he’s at today.”