The Clarion wrestling team earned its first dual match win of the season on Saturday, riding two late pinfalls to a 24-20 win over Pittsburgh at Fitzgerald Fieldhouse. The Golden Eagles (1-1) have now beaten the Panthers in each of the last two meetings between the teams.
The highlight of the match may very well have been the action in the upper weight classes, when Clarion turned a 14-9 team point deficit into a 21-14 lead. Dom Rigous started it off at 174 pounds with his win over Austin Bell. Things started innocently enough with Rigous taking a 2-0 lead into the second period, but it was his takedown and tilt midway through that round that spelled the end. Rigous twisted and contorted Bell before finally getting him flat on the mat for the fall at 4:04.
By comparison, Greg Bulsak‘s win by fall at 184 pounds came as a sudden shock, with the redshirt freshman pinning Gregg Harvey in the first period. Bulsak wasted no time at all, bringing Harvey down and notching four back points seemingly as soon as the bout began. Continuing to work Harvey throughout, Bulsak finally got the fall with eight seconds remaining in the first, putting the Golden Eagles in the driver’s seat down the stretch with a 21-14 lead.
Bulsak’s win essentially clinched the team match, but Dustin Conti‘s overtime victory at 197 pounds guaranteed a team win for the Golden Eagles. It was back-and-forth with Kellan Stout through three periods, with the two wrestlers tied at 3-3 after three periods. Neither scored in the sudden victory period but Conti reversed Stout in the first tiebreaker, spinning out of the down position for two points. He kept Stout at bay in the next portion to pick up the 5-3 decision.
Clarion started fast with an encouraging win at 125 pounds, with Jake Gromacki defeating two-time NCAA qualifier LJ Bentley soundly to put the Golden Eagles on the board first. The turning point of the match came midway in the second period, when Gromacki – who started in the up position – managed to tilt Bentley for a four-point near fall. That broke the scoreless tie and put Gromacki in position to dictate the pace of the third period. Bentley got a two-point takedown in the third period to cut the lead to 5-2 and seemed on the verge of scoring a near fall of his own, but Gromacki reversed him late to cement the victory.
The 141-pound match saw two nationally ranked contenders battle it out, with Brock Zacherl and Nick Zanetta throwing down in a tightly contested bout. The only scoring in the first two periods came when Zacherl escaped from the down position to start, and neither wrestler was ready to give an inch. Zanetta escaped to start the third period but Zacherl finally caught him on a shot to make it 3-1. Zanetta escaped again but could not catch Zacherl as the latter held on for a 3-2 decision.
The 149-pound bout was a similar defensive struggle. Taylor Ortz trailed 2-1 after one period but seized the momentum in the second period after starting the round on top. He rod Alex Murray out in the second period and then escaped to start the third, tying the bout for the time but also clinching the riding point in the process. Not content to leave it at that, Ortz took Murray down in the waning second of the third period to lock up the 5-2 decision.
125: Jake Gromacki (Clarion) def. LJ Bentley (Pittsburgh) Dec. 8-2
133: #11 Dom Forys (Pittsburgh) def. Roshaun Cooley (Clarion) TF 18-3
141: #9 Brock Zacherl (Clarion) def. #16 Nick Zanetta (Pittsburgh) Dec. 3-2
149: Taylor Ortz (Clarion) def. Alex Murray (Pittsburgh) Dec. 5-2
157: #20 Taleb Rahmani (Pittsburgh) def. Avery Shay (Clarion) Fall 4:59
165: Jake Wentzel (Pittsburgh) def. Max Wohlabaugh (Clarion) SV-1 4-2
174: Dom Rigous (Clarion) def. Austin Bell (Pittsburgh) Fall 4:04
184: Greg Bulsak (Clarion) def. Gregg Harvey (Pittsburgh) Fall 2:52
197: Dustin Conti (Clarion) def. Kellan Stout (Pittsburgh) TB-1 5-3
285: #15 Ryan Solomon (Pittsburgh) def. Toby Cahill (Clarion) Fall 1:33