Caleb Clymer adds to family legacy
Northwestern wrestler Caleb Clymer is all smiles after winning a PIAA State Championship on Saturday in Hershey. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app for a video. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
Caleb Clymer wanted gold.
He made that much clear after leaving Hershey with a bronze medal as a junior.
“Next year, hopefully I can improve a little bit more and bring home the gold,” Clymer said after his third-place finish last season.
Hopeful? Certainly. Confident? Absolutely.
Clymer’s target was clear from the moment he walked off the podium at the Giant Center last March.
The Northwestern senior delivered on every bit of potential and promise he has shown throughout his career on Saturday.
Clymer’s convincing 8-0 major decision over Port Allegany’s Jacob Kallenborn in the Class 2A 160-pound final capped a stellar high school career.
The victory also added to an already remarkable family legacy created by brothers Ben, Bobby and Scott. All three were District 11 champions. Scott and Ben were also two-time regional champions, and both also won state titles. Scott accomplished the feat in 2006, while Ben did so in 2008.
Now, Caleb, a three-time district champion, can attach his name to that list – and add to the family’s already vast array of awards and accomplishments.
“They’re everywhere. There’s a lot of them,” Clymer said of the family’s accolades. “In the basement, we’ve got a big trophy cabinet. So I get to put this medal right there next to all of them.”
The younger Clymer, who was sixth at states as a sophomore, credited all of his older brothers for helping him reach the pinnacle of high school wrestling in Pennsylvania.
“I’m sure they’re all gonna have their say and say they had like the biggest hand in it,” Caleb said with a smile. “But definitely, out of my three older brothers, Scotty, helping me with my top moves, and Ben probably helped me the most on my feet, getting to my snaps, getting to my misdirections.
“And Bobby’s probably the one that helped me the most. He’s been my coach for my freshman, sophomore and junior year, and he helped me an unbelievable amount. To have him in my corner all those past three years, I can’t even explain how much of a confidence booster it was and how much it calmed my nerves before going out to matches.”
Bobby wasn’t in attendance Saturday to watch Caleb win his state title.
But he wasn’t far away.
“He’s actually in the Hershey State Police Academy,” Caleb said of Bobby. “He was unfortunately unable to get out of that. But he’s real close, so I’m gonna go up and visit him tomorrow, and definitely get to talk to him about the match.”
No matter where they are, or what they do, the family will always be synonymous with the Northwestern wrestling program.
“It’s an awesome family to have in the program,” said Tigers’ head coach Jim Moll. “We’re extremely fortunate to have, not just good wrestlers, but a good family, who is involved, so much, from the youth program, to junior high, through high school and booster club, fundraising efforts. They’re very involved in the program, and you need that to have success as a program.
“And the amount of support they give Caleb, the brothers, the mom and dad, the sisters … they’re at every match and tournament. It’s really awesome. It is Team Clymer, for sure.”
Which makes Clymer’s triumph Saturday so much more than just an individual accomplishment.
“It’s a Clymer family medal,” said Caleb. “Gotta give it to everybody.”
BEST OF THE BEST … Nazareth’s Sammy Sasso capped a remarkable career Saturday in the Class 3A tournament. Sasso captured his fourth state medal – and second straight title – with a victory in the 145-pound final. Sasso, a four-time district and regional champion, finished his career at Nazareth with 180 victories.
CHAMPS … Nazareth won the Class 3A team title on Saturday with 87 points. Including Sasso, the Blue Eagles had a total of five medalists. Cathedral Prep (73) was second, while Bethlehem Catholic (68.50) was third.
STUNNER ... Frazier sophomore Thayne Lawrence (30-2) made perhaps the biggest statement of any Class 2A champion. Frazier, the Southwest Regional runner-up, knocked off Northeast Regional champion Cade Linn (42-11) of Southern Columbia 8-0 in the quarterfinals before powering past SW Regional champion Justin McCoy (45-2) of Chestnut Ridge 8-1 to win the title. McCoy won the 145-pound title a year ago.
“THE ROSE BOWL OF WRESTLING” … Clymer and Sasso will be a part of Team Pennsylvania’s lineup in the annual Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic. The Pennsylvania team will face a USA All-Star squad at the University of Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Field House on Sunday, March 25 at 6 p.m. with a preliminary match between a WPIAL All-Star team and Iowa All-Stars at 4 p.m. Sasso and Clymer will meet top-flight foes in the event. Sasso (145) will face Brock Hardy (138-4), a three-time Utah champion for Box Elder High and a Nebraska signee. Clymer (160) will meet Bergen Catholic’s Shane Griffith (88-12), a two-time New Jersey champion and Stanford commit. The Pennsylvania squad has a combined record of 2,068-223 and has amassed 23 state titles. Kiski Area’s Chris Heater and Burrell’s Josh Shields will lead Team Pennsylvania, which also includes Jaret Lane (120, Southern Columbia; Lehigh), Logan Macri (120, Canon-McMillan; Tennessee-Chattanooga), Gavin Teasdale (126, Jefferson-Morgan; Penn State), Jack Davis (132, Wyoming Seminary; Pittsburgh), Cole Matthews (138, Reynolds; Pittsburgh), Zach Hartman (152, Belle Vernon; Bucknell), Trent Hidlay (170, Mifflin County; North Carolina State), Cody Mulligan (182, Saegertown; Edinboro), Gavin Hoffman (195, Montoursville; Ohio State), Anthony Walters (220, Bishop McCort; Drexel) and Isaac Reid (285, Kiski Area; Lock Haven).
TRICKLE DOWN EFFECT … While Clymer’s victory Saturday got the spotlight, it was the work he put in behind the scenes that made his success possible. Moll is hoping the Tigers’ underclassmen learn from Clymer’s work ethic. “You don’t always see all the work someone else puts in. Most of the work you put in to get that extra leg up on your opponent, all the stuff you do after practice, or in the morning, or late at night, people don’t see that. So it’s hard for other kids to see that, and realize the correlation between all of the extra stuff, and the success that Caleb had. But that’s what it takes. The amount of work Caleb put in, and the focus, to keep improving. Because he knew he had to get better in certain areas from last year. And even from halfway through this year, he knew he had to improve on things. So to work on those things, and not just say, ‘Hey, I’m beating 95 percent of the people I’m wrestling. I’m really good. I can just kind of coast, and keep doing what I’m doing.’ He didn’t do that. He improved, he listened to coaching from us, from his brothers. It takes that kind of openness and being coachable to improve. So hopefully, that’s what other kids take out of his success,” Moll said of Clymer.
FACTS AND FIGURES … Clymer became the 20th state champion from the Times News area (since 1971) and the ninth from Northwestern. Northwestern’s Greg Stewart (112 pounds, 1979-80) is the only two-time state champ from the area.
The nine champions leads all area schools. Northern Lehigh/Slatington has produced eight state champions.