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Bermudian wrestling plot thickeners

Bermudian Springs wrestling's climb to the top of the sectional team title was the plot of Saturday's story, but there were plenty of subplots for the Eagles along the way. Here are a few stories that never made print.

First-timer tops the podium

Austin Clabaugh may only be a freshman, but he showed true composure on Saturday.

Entering the tournament as the No. 3 seed at 106,  the nimble lightweight showed he deserved more respect than that, finishing off the No. 2 seed Sam Horowitz Soyos, a Camp Hill senior, with a 15-0 technical fall in the semifinals.

The championship match against top-seeded sophomore, Upper Dauphin Area's Connor Boyer, was a little more difficult. Clabaugh found his move early in the third period, locking a cradle for an 8-7 lead after trailing by two. He picked up another near fall just before time expired to add a cushion to his 10-7 victory.

Clabaugh said he'd never faced either of his top competitors prior to the tournament.

"I knew I needed to get at least two points any way I could," Clabaugh said. "Boyer seems to like the cradle just like I do, but it worked out pretty well for me."

Clabaugh has been a fan of Bermudian wrestling since he was little and he's proud to share a locker room with so many accomplished athletes.

"Having so many great seniors just makes me want to work harder and get to where they are," he said. "I'd love to do as well as some of them."

Stealing points

The Eagles lived up to their seedings across the board, and two pulled off significant upsets.

Dalton Becker entered as the No. 6 seed at 113 with a 14-11 record, but topped No. 3 seed Ryan Kuhn of Biglerville (20-13), 2-0, and No. 2 seed Chase Drawbaugh (24-9) of Trinity, 8-6 before finally losing to top-seeded Coy Campbell of Upper Dauphin Area for second place.

Jared Spahr was only 8-11 at 152, good enough for a No. 5 seed, but he still turned the tables on the top seed, Delone Catholic's Lucas Schull (28-7), with an 8-5 win to make the finals.

Spahr said he did better than he expected, but not by much. Injuries hampered his season, he said, and he has just now begun to feel healthy.

He tore the lateral collateral ligament in his right leg before the Carlisle tournament during a wrestle-off, he said. Then during the Chambersburg tournament he sprained his left ankle, missing more time.

Spahr trailed Schull, 5-3, with only 30 seconds left, but worked a reversal to tie, then found a way to win before the end of regulation.

"I was just looking for an escape, but he started getting high on me," Spahr said. "I felt him coming up over my shoulder, so I went for the head. I was fortunate enough to suck him in and put him to his back."

A long 10 hours

Wrestlers were required to be at the tournament at 1:30 p.m. for weigh-ins and the final matches weren't over until nearly midnight on Saturday.

Every wrestler experienced long bouts of down time, but none longer than Bermudian's Sam McCollum.

The top seed in a 220-pound bracket with only nine wrestlers, McCollum waited hours for the first round to finish he got his first opportunity to wrestle. He said the long wait wasn't so bad because he got to hang out with his extended family, who traveled to see him.

When he finally got his chance on the mat he pinned his opponent, Payton Kennerly of Upper Dauphin Area, in 15 seconds.

"My grandma missed my first match," the junior said, suppressing a laugh. "She was out in the lobby, making a loop to come around on the closer side. By the time she came out, she missed it."

McCollum made his last match a little longer, pinning Biglerville's Nate Mentzer in 3:54, to win the

McCollum had a skin infection during his sophomore year and wasn't able to wrestle at sectionals. He's been hungry to make a run in the postseason ever since.

"I even set my picture of my cellphone screen saver as the district stage," he said. "My goal is to win districts. Every day I look at that."