Altoona shines at Panther Holiday Classic

By Todd Irwin

For the Mirror

CRESSON — Altoona’s Parker McClellan is on a mission for a state medal this season, and if his weekend wrestling is any indication, the senior is on course to make a run.

McClellan captured his second title at the Panther Holiday Classic — formerly the Sheetz Holiday Classic — Saturday at Mount Aloysius College’s Athletic Convocation and Wellness Center with an 11-5 win over Pocono Mountain West’s Greg Bensley.

“It feels great,” McClellan said. “I still have a lot of work to do, but I feel like I did what I needed to do today. I started a little slow on my feet, and I need to get out of that. I usually pick it up a little more when I get the guy tired.”

McClellan’s 220-pound teammate, Nate Simmers, also captured a title by pinning Central Cambria’s John Croft with a second left in the tiebreaker period, officially in 7:59.

“Both guys wrestled very well,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. “They were physical, and they did what they had to do to win the matches.”

Glendale freshman Brock McMillen (113) and Everett’s Garret Cornell (126) and Hollidaysburg’s Nathan Swartz (145) also claimed titles.

Hollidaysburg’s Mason McCready (182) and Moshannon Valley’s Trae Kitko (285) joined Croft as runners-up.

McClellan, who went 5-0, gave up the first takedown to Bensley and trailed 3-2 going into the second period. But it was all McClellan from there.

The 6-foot-3 McClellan reversed and cradled Bensley for two nearfall points in the second. He added three more back points for a 9-4 lead. McClellan scored a takedown to set the final score.

“My top wrestling is something I’ve really been working on,” McClellan said, “because you’ve got to be good in all three positions to be a good wrestler. I feel like people don’t worry about the top as much as they should. That’s one of my favorite positions to work on. I think the leverage really helps. I feel like I can cradle guys a little easier because I have long arms, and I used my legs to move the guy around and put pressure on him.”

“He went out a little slow, but he turned it on after that,” Gilbert said. “I think he pretty much dominated the match. He got to his best position, which is his top position, and he was able to score a lot of points. I think he kind of broke that kid in that position.”

Simmers went 5-0 in the tournament, and his finals bout was easily his closest bout of the weekend. Simmers escaped from Croft in the first 30-second period, and he rode in the next period until Croft, who posted a 3-1 mark, went to his back late, and the pin was called.

“It feels pretty good to win, especially with the fall in overtime,” Simmers said. “He was gassed by the end of it, and thank God for conditioning because I was ready for that.”

Swartz, who went 5-0 in the team’s first competition of the season, earned his title with a 4-0 win over St. Marys’ Alec Bittler in the finals. The bout was scoreless going into the third period, but Swartz reversed 25 seconds into the period and scored two nearfall points a little bit later to set the final score.

“We’ve wrestled a few times before, and we’re good buddies,” Swartz said. “I knew it was going to be a grind, but it was a real fun match. I leg-slipped him, and I put his hip on the mat, high-legged over and came into a turk situation. I tried to get the turn (for back points), and I did.”

“Swartz wrestled really tough, really smart,” Hollidaysburg coach Christian Harr said. “He obviously executed the way that we’ve been practicing. He’s really focused this year.”

McMillen, who was ranked third in PA Power Wrestling’s top freshmen list coming into the season, went 6-0 in the tournament, including a 5-0 win over Tunkhannock’s David Evans in the finals. McMillen, who beat Penns Valley’s Baylor Shunk, 10-7 in overtime, notched two takedowns and an escape against Evans.

Cornell, a two-time state qualifier, completed a 5-0 tournament with a 7-2 win over Saint Joseph’s Malachi DuVall in the finals. Cornell scored a four-point move in the first period, and he cradled DuVall for three more points in the second period.

McCready rolled into the finals with four wins before dropping a 5-3 decision to Woodbridge, Va.’s Mohammed Ibrahim. McCready was the aggressor, but Ibrahim scored two takedowns, including one on an inside trip in the second period.

“Wrestling a taller guy, he’s put in a difficult situation,” Harr said. “We have to work a little bit more on finishing well on a lot of those shots. He was definitely the aggressor.”

Kitko, a transfer from Clearfield, went 4-1, including an 11-4 win over Central Cambria’s Nate Martin in the semifinals. He, however, couldn’t solve Dallastown’s Raymond Christas in a 4-0 loss.

There were 36 area wrestlers who placed in the 44-team tournament.

Huntingdon had five placewinners in third-placer Landon Fisher, fourth-placers Izac Benson (132) and Alex Mykut (195), sixth-placer Joey Bailey (160) and eighth-placer Isaiah Reed (220).

The Bearcats finished in third place in the team standings with 146.5 points. District 6 foe Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy breezed to the team title by 42.5 points, 192.5-150, over Tunkhannock.

“I felt it was a great effort from our guys,” Huntingdon coach Jon Mykut said. “A lot of the work that we got done was in the wrestlebacks. Our guys worked all weekend for bonus points each time they stepped on the mat.”

Mo Valley had three other placers in third-placers Alex Richner (132) and Jon Dale (160) and fourth-placer Joe Ball (126).

Penn Cambria’s four medalists were fifth-placer Jarred Stoy (182) and sixth-placers Chase Proudfit (132), Brock Talko (145) and Derek Brown (170). Central Cambria had three other placers in fourth-placer Martin (285), seventh-placer Isaac Thompson (170) and eighth-placer Austin Washic (138).

Cambria Heights had five medalists in fourth-placer Seth Link (152), fifth-placer Cody Bogus (285), sixth-placer Matt Davis (106) and seventh-placers Allen Simmons (113) and Ben Yahner (160).

Altoona had two other placers in Matt Sarbo (113), who took third, and Haden Boutiller (152), who was fifth. Hollidaysburg’s Cody Dively (126) was sixth.

Portage’s Logan Shaffer (126) was third, and Cole Sossong (160) was fourth. Central had two placers in fifth-placer Braeden Swab (145) and seventh-placer Logan Marko (152). Bellwood-Antis’ Ty Noonan (126) was seventh.

Top 20 Team Standings

1. Saint Joseph’s Academy 192.5; 2. Tunkhannock 150; 3. Huntingdon 146.5; 4. Dallastown 143; 5. Mifflinburg 138; 6. Altoona 123.5; 7. Moshannon Valley 121.5; 8. Mount Union 116.5; 9. Woodbridge, VA 109; 10. Berlin Brothersvalley 105.5; 11. Forest Hills 104; 12. Hollidaysburg 92.5; 13. Ligonier Valley and Penn Cambria 87; 15. Penns Valley 86; 16. Central Cambria 86; 17. Cambria Heights 85.5; 18. Riverbend 79; 19. Hazleton and Shamokin 77

Championship Finals

106–Ohl, Saint Joseph’s, dec. Fischer, South Park, 6-0; 113–McMillen, Glendale, dec. Evans, Tunkhannock, 5-0; 120–Witmer, Saint Joseph’s, dec. Boozel, Mount Union, 3-1; 126–Cornell, Everett, dec. DuVall, Saint Joseph’s, 7-2; 132–Pietiewicz, Shamokin, dec. Powers, Saint Joseph’s. 4-2; 138–Traver, Tunkhannock, pinned Dowling, Saint Joseph’s 5:19; 145–Swartz, Hollidaysburg, dec. Bittler, St. Marys, 4-0.

152–Law, Forest Hills, dec. Caldwell, Ligonier Valley, 10-9; 160–Stoltzfus, Mifflinburg, dec. Todaro, Mount Union, 7-0; 170–Patrick, Ligonier Valley, Carpenter, Shamokin, ; 182–Ibrahim, Woodbridge, dec. McCready, Hollidaysburg, 5-3; 195–McClellan, Altoona, dec. Bensley, Pocono Mountain West, 11-5; 220–Simmers, Altoona, pinned Croft, Central Cambria, 7:59 TB; 285–Christas, Dallastown, dec. Kitko, Moshannon Valley, 4-0.

Outstanding Wrestler: Tommy Traver, Tunkhannock

Third-Place Finals

106–George, Mount Pleasant, dec. Gramley, Mifflinburg, 4-0; 113–Sarbo, Altoona, dec. Shunk, Penns Valley, 3-1; 120–Caraviannis, Brentsville, dec. Ortega, Riverbend, 6-0; 126–Shaffer, Portage, dec. Ball, Moshannon Valley, 8-5; 132–Richner, Moshannon Valley, maj. dec. Benson, Huntingdon, 9-1; 138–Pugh, Berlin Brothersvalley, dec. Cook, Madonna, 8-4; 145–Lee, Berlin Brothersvalley, dec. Gessner, Mifflinburg, 1-0.

152–Rothrock, Saint Joseph’s maj. dec. Link, Cambria Heights, 17-3; 160–Dale, Moshannon Valley, dec. Sossong, Portage, 2-1; 170–Abdulrazzaq, Woodbridge, dec. Feeney, Dallastown, 12-5; 182–Munley, Tunkhannock, dec. Burlew, Corry, 2-0; 195–Noonan, Hazleton, maj. dec. Mykut, Huntingdon, 1-0; 220–Ryan, Mount Union, dec. Brandon, Dallastown, 7-2; 285–Fisher, Huntingdon, dec. Martin, Central Cambria, 2-0.

*Full results can be found on Flo Arena