McClellan uses recent loss to help

HERSHEY — If last week’s 9-3 loss to Selinsgrove’s Nate Schon in the Northwest Regional Tournament finals did anything for Altoona’s Parker McClellan, it showed him what he had to work on.

Whatever he worked on seemed on point in his first bout at the PIAA Class 3A Championships on Thursday night at the Giant Center.

McClellan earned a 6-2 win over Hatboro Horsham’s Nick Chapman in the first round at 220 pounds to advance to today’s 2:15 p.m. quarterfinals.

“It feels pretty good,” McClellan said. “I fixed a few things up from last week, so I think my style is going to work a lot better for me here at states.”

McClellan was the only area wrestler to make it to the quarterfinals.

Hollidaysburg’s Nathan Swartz (138) and Mason McCready (182), Altoona’s Matt Sarbo (106) and Philipsburg-Osceola’s Matt Johnson (152) are still alive in the consolations.

Altoona’s Nate Simmers (285) was the only area wrestler to be eliminated.

McClellan hit a five-point move in the first period when Chapman attempted a lateral drop on the 6-foot-3 Mountain Lion. McClellan, who weighed in at 211 pounds, took him right to his back for a 5-0 lead.

“That throw really helped me a lot,” McClellan said. “I tried to keep my composure after I got up. I didn’t want to do anything dumb and get caught, especially in that first match. The first match is crucial here.”

McClellan knows from experience because he went 0-2 in last year’s tournament, and was out after the first day.

McClellan escaped in the second period for a 6-0 lead, and then Chapman reversed in the third, but McClellan avoided any danger.

“You know what, he wrestled smart,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. “Every guy you face is looking to win the state tournament. Parker took advantage of the other guy’s mistakes.”

McClellan (28-5) will face Pocono Mountain West’s Northeast Regional champ Greg Bensley in the quarters. Bensley (24-3) pinned Cocalico’s Joseph Bearinger in 2:49 in the first round.

“I think I’m going to wrestle well,” McClellan said. “I’m going to wrestle as hard as I can because this is the last tournament of my high school career. You might as well wrestle as hard as you can.”

Sarbo (30-6), the Northwest Regional champ, ran into a buzz saw in his only bout of the day. Liberty’s Tal-Reese Flemming rang up a 14-0 win over Sarbo, who solve the lanky Flemming’s top wrestling. Flemming, who won 7-0 in his preliminary bout, scored nine nearfall points.

“My hat is off to that Flemming kid,” Gilbert said. “Boy, he was tough. He had a game plan, took Sarbo out of his game and he was able to execute, and we weren’t.”

Sarbo received a bye in the consolations.

McCready (28-7) suffered a heated and somewhat controversial 5-4 ultimate tiebreaker loss to Cedar Cliff’s Donovon Ball in the first round. But he responded with an 11-2 major decision over Manheim Township’s Carter Hasson in the consolations.

Against Ball, a hard-charging McCready received a stalling point with 10 seconds left in the bout to tie the score, 3-3. After a scoreless overtime, Ball escaped with 2 seconds left in the first tiebreaker period. McCready escaped in the second to send it to the ultimate tiebreaker.

In a flurry at the edge of the mat, the referee ruled the wrestlers out of bounds with no escape, but after the mat judge conferred with him, he gave the escape.

“The ref made a call,” McCready said. “I should not have let it get to where it got to, but the ref made the call.”

“Whenever you are looking for one thing as a referee and another guy is looking for something else, and you aren’t in a position to make that call, I don’t necessarily think you should make that call,” Hollidaysburg coach Christian Harr said. “I don’t think it was the right call. They were clearly out of bounds.”

In his second bout against Manheim Township’s Carter Hasson, McCready scored five nearfall points in the second period, added a takedown and another two-point nearfall for a 9-1 lead after two periods. He scored another takedown in the third.

“It’s always tough after losing your first match, but I’ve been there a lot,” McCready said. “Out at Fargo in both styles, I lost in the first round and made it to the blood (placing) rounds. I told my coach, I’m going to get what’s mine.”

Swartz was pinned in 5:57 by Canon-McMillan’s Tim Hritsko in the preliminaries, but he responded with a 6-0 win over Waynesburg’s Jackson Henson in his consolation bout.

Swartz (30-8) had a takedown of Henson in the first, a reversal in the second and another takedown in the third.

“I think we got a little frazzled in the first bouts,” Harr said of his wrestlers. “I think they both rebounded well.”

Johnson (22-7) won his preliminary bout, 7-2, over Spring Ford’s Ben D’Arcangelo, but he was pinned by Lower Dauphin’s Clayton Ulrey in 2:19 in the first round. Johnson got a bye in the consy round.

“In his first match, he was a little nervous,” P-O coach Brad Pataky said, “but he was able to bounce back right away after getting taken down. He was looking to score points. In the second match, he wrestled the best that he could, and it just wasn’t his match.”

Simmers dropped an 11-6 decision to Lower Dauphin’s Kyler Wuestner in the first round, and then he was pinned by Governor Mifflin’s Jordan Espinosa in 1:20 in the consolations.

Simmers was winning 6-5 when he ran into the press row wall, and he had to take a timeout. Simmers (27-9) also landed hard off of the mat later as Wuestner scored six unanswered points.

The Mountain Lion junior was up 2-0 on Espinosa in the second when he got chinned to his back and pinned.

“He had a tough tournament,” Gilbert said. “I think Nate will come back next year, show some perseverance and work a little bit harder in the offseason. I think next season, he’s going to come down here and place.”