BROOKVILLE — For the fourth time in five years, the Brookville Raiders wrestling team hung up a state championship banner before its home-opening match.
Tuesday night, it was Gavin Park’s turn prior to the Raiders’ 60-18 rout of the visiting Clarion Bobcats. The current Clarion University wrestler won the team’s sixth individual title last spring in Hershey.
“Obviously, it’s pretty special,” Raiders head coach Dave Klepfer said. “It’s rare and not a lot of people have done it. Gavin put in a tremendous amount of work into the sport, still is and I’m glad we’re able to do that in our home gym. After states, you come home and get congratulations, but there’s no real ceremony.”
“For the school to honor the kids for what they do in front of a nice crowd, it’s pretty special so I’m happy for him.”
Klepfer was honored himself with a commemorative plaque prior to Tuesday’s match. He reached the 200-win milestone over the weekend at Greenville’s Sheetz Kickoff Classic. He’s now at 202 career wins after the quick 50-minute win over the Bobcats.
The match included six forfeits, five of them accepted by the Raiders. The Bobcats had five regulars out with injuries or trying to get down to the proper weight in the early going.
On the mat, the Raiders won six of eight bouts, getting notable wins from Dontae Constable in the first bout of the night at 152 pounds, Braden MacBeth at 170 and Tyler Cook’s 3-0 decision over Tom Wurster at 220 in a rematch of last year’s district final.
“I thought the guys were competing hard. We’re trying to clean up some of the early-season technical mistakes, but I thought guys were all competing pretty hard. We’re making people earn points,” Klepfer said.
“We have a few inexperienced guys in the lineup and we’re trying to bring them along. It’s still a work in progress, it’s early and I don’t expect them to be on top of their game this early in the year.”
Constable pinned Frank Weber in the second period to get the night going on a strong note for the home team. He was given the Clint Puller Memorial Award for the team’s outstanding performance.
MacBeth was solid in a 9-2 decision over Cam Boggess, riding him out the entire second period and scoring five nearfall points.
Cook had a first-period takedown and second-period escape to control his bout.
“I thought Tyler responded really well after a tough weekend and beat a solid kid, shutting him out. He kind of dominated him for six minutes and wrestled well,” Klepfer said.
“Braden had a great match and Dontae beat one of their better kids and pinned him. I think our seniors showed up tonight with a little more attitude tonight that we did on Saturday and it showed in the way they wrestled,” Klepfer added.
The Raiders also got pins from Xavier Molnar, Colby Whitehill and Kai Sorbin. Molnar overwhelmed Seth Nellis before a second-period pin at 195 as did Whitehill, the team’s lone unbeaten starter at this point, in his second-period pin at heavyweight.
Sorbin pinned Colton Zacher in 52 seconds at 132 pounds.
Clarion won twice on the mat, getting a third-period pin from Nick Porciello over Brian Himes at 170 and a rare defensive pin in the final bout of the night got Cutter Boggess a win over Cody Hetrick in a batter of freshmen at 145.
Hetrick had just taken a 5-4 lead early in the third period against Boggess, but while in control from a bottom position, Hetrick’s shoulders were on the mat long enough for official Marvin Morris to slap the mat in favor of Boggess.
Klepfer didn’t dispute the call.
“It’s a young kid making a mistake,” Klepfer said. “It’s one of those things where you have to feel that. You have to feel your shoulders on the mat and it was a match where we weren’t in control but as it was winding down into the last minute, I felt we were in position to win up one and he has to just feel that.
“He’ll learn from it. He’s a smart kid and aggressive. I felt he had a slow start and didn’t really wrestle in the first period, then he started in the second period. I thought we outwrestled him the last 2 1/2 minutes of the match, but you can’t make that mistake.”
Clarion head coach Brian Luton was impressed with Boggess’ mat awareness in the rare call and happy with his short-handed team’s effort.
“I’m pleasantly surprised with how the guys did tonight,” Luton said. “Their effort, they never quit. You can fix the mistakes, but I was happy with what I saw.”
Luton didn’t have projected starters Colton Rapp, Ben Smith, Colt and Wyatt Stimmell and Ryley McMaster in the lineup. With that five, the Bobcats should be a competitive unit in D9 Class 2A.
The Raiders are back in action Thursday at home against Punxsutawney.