DuBOIS — The Clearfield wrestling team has experienced its share of ups and downs this season, but the Bison put it all together Saturday at the District 4/9 Class AAA Team Tournament and came oh so close to capturing its first team crown since 2016.
Clearfield, which entered the event as the No. 4 seed, went 2-1 on the day and fell one win short against Williamsport in the finals of winning the title and punching its ticket to states. Instead, it was the third-seeded Millionaires who came away with their first-ever team crown with a 37-35 victory against the Bison thanks to a major decision win from Roman Morrone in the final bout.
Clearfield reached the finals with a 37-29 win against rival St. Marys in the quarterfinals before upsetting top-seeded Selinsgrove, 36-32.
Both of those matches were split down the middle, with each team winning seven bouts. But, it was the Bison who won the bonus-point battle in both matches — 16-8 vs. the Dutchmen and 15-11 vs. the Seals — to come out on top. None of those bonus-point wins were bigger than Luke Freeland’s first-period pin of Selinsgrove’s Garrett Paradis in the final bout of the semis to send the Bison to the finals.
Freeland was one of five Clearfield wrestlers to go 2-1 on the day. Teammates Mark McGonigal, Oliver Billotte and Evan Davis all were a perfect 3-0.
Unfortunately for Clearfield, it couldn’t win that bonus-point battle a third time in a row in the finals, as Williamsport finished with a slim 16-15 edge in that area in its two-point win in another matchup where the teams splits win evenly at 7-7. Clearfield also lost a team point in the finals loss.
“We took our shot,” said Clearfield coach Jeff Aveni. “We had some gutsy performances all day long and we battled. We just came up a little short there (in finals).”
It was all Bison at the opening whistle as they ripped off six straight victories after Williamsport won the opener to build what appeared to be a commanding 32-3 advantage as the match turned over the lightweights.
After Williamsport’s Owen Mahon opened the finals with a 9-3 win against Karson Kline, the Bison were all smiles as they ran roughshod through the Williamsport upperweights.
JD Graham started the run with a forfeit win at 160, while Mark McGonigal pinned Sebastian Robinson in 4:31 at 170 to make it 12-3. Teammate Hayden Kavolick needed just 1:24 to flatten Cale Cooklin at 182 before Brett Zattoni put on a takedown clinic at 195 in a 24-9 technical fall of Charlie Lundy.
Oliver Billotte followed with a 5-0 decision against Charles Crews at 220 before Bison Jon Doran received a forfeit win at 285 to put his team up 32-3.
Clearfield won just one more bout from there though, with Nolan Barr’s 11-3 major decision of Riley Harris at 126 momentarily giving the Bison some hope as they still led 36-21 with three bouts remaining. All three went the Millionaires’ way — the first two via fall as Isaiah Harer pinned Justin Hand in 3:55 at 132 before teammate Riley Bower flattened Wyatt Reorda in 1:40 at 138 to pull the Millionaires within two at 35-33.
Morrone than clinched the historical victory for the Millionaires when he notched an 18-4 major decision against Freeland in the final bout at 145.
The Bison lost a team point during that closing run when Aveni argued a non-call for potentially dangerous on a move that led to Isaiah Harer pinning Justin Hand in 3:55 following Barr’s fall at 126. Those bonus-points for loomed large for Williamsport in the end.
“That match at 32 just killed me,’ said Aveni. “Our leg was wrapped behind his leg up around his belly. We had no where to wrestle to. That’s potentially dangerous in any match I’ve ever seen. And, they didn’t stop it and we got pinned because of it. We had no where to go without damaging ourself, and that’s a shame.
“I thought our kids wrestled with a lot of heart and lot of pride today, and things happen for a reason. I’m pleased with our effort, but disappointed that one didn’t get stopped there and let us decide something in a far and even situation. It is what it is.
“We’re still young and got pinned in two toss-ups there (in finals), and that hurts. Those were two more matches I thought we had a shot at winning, and we end up getting pinned in them. Overall, it was a great effort though.”
Williamsport reached the finals with a 37-31 win against second-seeded DuBois in another matchup that went down to the final bout.
The Bison opened the day with its 37-29 win against the Dutchmen in a match the saw the lead change hands seven times. The last of those lead changes came when Evan Davis pinned Tanner Quackenbush in 14 seconds to put the Bison up for good at 27-23 with four bouts remaining.
Freeland, Zattoni, Billotte and Derrick Bender also had falls in the win. Barr won by major decision, while McGonigal pulled out a 5-2 win against Dutchman Nick Crisp.
Then in the semifinals, Clearfield used four pins in the final seven bouts to rally from a 24-9 deficit at the midway point of the match. Billotte and David jump-started that closing run with back-to-back falls at 285 and 106, respectively, while Barr collected a first-period fall at 120 to tie the match at the time (27-27).
After Aiden Gaugler recorded a pin to put the Seals back up six at 32-27, Hand captured an 8-1 win against Sylvan Martin to set the stage for Freeland’s heroics in the final bout. Hayden Kavolick also pulled out a tight 3-2 win against Seal Steven Miller in the match for the Bison.
Clearfield (10-6) hosts Bellefonte on Tuesday.
ST. MARYS 29
138—Luke Freeland (C) pinned Gregory Tettis, 1:34. (0-6)
145—Tylor Herzing (SM) tech fal Karson Kline, 15-0 (5:17). (5-6)
152—John Wittman (SM) pinned JD Graham, 1:15. (11-6)
160—Mark McGonigal (C) dec. Nick Crisp, 5-2. (11-9)
170—Raivis Bobby (SM) dec. Hayden Kavolick, 12-6. (14-9)
182—Brett Zattoni (C) won by forfeit. (14-15)
195—Jeremy Garthwaite (SM) pinned Matt Bailor, 0:26. (20-15)
220—Oliver Bilotte (C) won by forfeit. (20-21)
285—Alex Lukaschunis (SM) dec. Jon Doran, 7-3. (23-21)
106—Evan Davis (C) pinned Tanner Quackenbush, 0:14. (23-27)
113—Derrick Bender (C) won by forfeit. (23-33)
120—Nolan Barr (C) maj. dec. Isaac Dellaquila, 11-3. (23-37)
126—Connor Gausman (SM) dec. Jason Plubell, 15-10. (26-37)
132—Lane Dellaquila (SM) dec. Justin Hand, 12-7. (29-37)
145—Teague Hoover (S) dec. Karson Kline, 3-1. (0-3)
152—Josiah Foss (S) pinned JD Graham, 4:34. (0-9)
160—Mark McGonigal (C) pinned Dean Hollenbach, 3:24. (6-9)
170—Coy Bastian (S) won by forfeit. (6-15)
182—Hayden Kavolick (C) dec. Steven Miller, 3-2. (9-15)
195—Ryan Aument (S) dec. Brett Zattoni, 3-2. (9-18)
220—Nate Schon (S) pinned Matt Bailor, 2;21. (9-24)
285—Oliver Billotte (C) pinned Trey Baney, 2:49. (15-24)
106—Evan Davis (C) pinned Leo Martinez, 0:47. (21-24)
113—Donovan Goundie (S) dec. Derrick Bender, 8-3. (21-27)
120—Nolan Barr (C) pinned Xavier Lopez, 1:50. (27-27)
126—Aiden Gaugler (S) tech falled Jason Plubell, 15-0 (4:17). (27-32)
132—Justin hand (C) dec. Sylvan Martin, 8-1. (30-32)
138—Luke Freeland (C) pinned Garrett Paradis, 1:34.(36-32)
152—Owen Mahon (W) dec. Karson Kline, 9-3. (0-3)
160—JD Graham (C) won by forfeit. (6-3)
170—Mark McGonigal (C) pinned Sebastian Robinson, 4:31. (12-3)
182—Hayden Kavolick (C) pinned Cale Cooklin, 1:24. (18-3)
195—Brett Zattoni (C) tech falled Charlie Lundy, 24-9 (4:55). (23-3)
220—Oliver Billotte (C) dec. Charles Crews, 5-0. (26-3)
285—Jon Doran (C) won by forfeit. (32-3)
106—Cael Nasdeo (W) won by forfeit. (32-9)
113—Luke Segraves (W) pinned Evan Davis, 1:03. (32-15)
120—Carter Weaver (W) pinned Derrick Bender, 1:06. (32-21)
126—Nolan Barr (C) maj. dec. Riley Harris, 11-3. (36-21)
132—Isaiah Harer (W) pinned Justin Hand, 3:55. (35-27)
138—Riley Bower (W) pinned Wyatt Reorda, 1:40. (35-33)
145—Roman Morrone (W) maj. dec. Luke Freeland, 18-4. (35-37
Clearfield lost a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct following the bout at 132