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Clabaugh knocks off undefeated foe, reaches final

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HERSHEY – For the second consecutive year, Austin Clabaugh ran into Pequea Valley’s Tanner Ball in a District 3 Class AA wrestling championship semifinal.

And for the second straight time, it was the Bermudian Springs 126-pounder who had his arm raised, albeit in a much different match.

The senior used a third-period reversal to hand Ball his first loss of the season, 2-1, in Friday evening’s semifinal round.

Clabaugh will be joined in this morning’s championship round by teammates Ashton West (152) and Noah Fleshman (195).

Kennard-Dale’s Andrew Barnett (145), Delone Catholic’s Brian Shermeyer (160) and Littlestown’s Calvin Harris (170) will also represent the YAIAA in the finals, set to start at 10 a.m. in the Giant Center.

All the finalists have secured spots in next week’s PIAA Class AA southeast regional at Wilson (West Lawn) High School.

A total of eight Bermudian Springs wrestlers have extended their season to next week’s tournament. Seven other YAIAA wrestlers will finish in the top six and move onto the next round of the postseason.

In last year’s bout, Clabaugh controlled most of the action on his way to a 7-1 victory also in the semifinals.

“Last year, I won more of the scrambles. But this year he improved his scrambles and got a lot stronger,” said the 36-4 senior.

Ball, who entered the match 32-0, chose down for the second period and it proved to be a mistake as Clabaugh rode him the entire two minutes. However, Clabaugh did get hit with a stalling warning.

The winning reversal came with 54 seconds left in the bout. A second stalling call with 20 seconds left gave the Lancaster-Lebanon League wrestler his only point.

“I was disappointed to take (the first) stalling call, but it was the right call,” said Clabaugh. “I wanted to show that I could ride him. … I was glad to wrestle a full six minutes.”

Clabaugh, the runnerup at 120 last season, will face Boiling Springs’ Kollin Myers in the final. Myers was the last year's 113-pound district champion.

West (36-2) also earned his finals berth with a tight decision. The senior registered the only takedown of the match against Pequea Valley’s Daniel Wanner in the first period and then exchanged escapes to complete the scoring at 3-1.

Fleshman was only leading 5-3 when he pinned Brady Herr of Newport with 38 seconds left in their 195-pound semifinal.

Shermyer took control of his semifinal against Austin Watkins of Susquehanna Township with a first-period takedown and three-point near-fall.

From there, the Squires senior recorded four more takedowns on his way to a 13-2 major decision, earning his finals berth against Wyomissing’s Tanner Vogel.

Shermyer had beaten Watkins at the New Oxford tournament earlier this year, so he knew what to expect from the junior.

“I knew he was a thrower. He’s big into Greco-Roman wrestling. I just needed to stay out of the upper-body moves,” said the 33-1 senior. “Once I got the lead, I just wanted to keep working on my feet and gaining confidence.”

In his 145-pound semifinal against Cameron Palmer of Boiling Springs, Barnett matched Clabaugh’s effort with a second-period ride out before earning the winning point on a third-period escape in a 3-2 decision.

And also like Clabaugh, he will face a defending district champion this morning in the form of John Pipa from Bishop McDevitt.

At 170, Harris used two first-period takedowns to build a 4-1 lead over Kutztown’s Tyler Fisher, en route to an 8-6 decision. A late takedown for the Berks County wrestler made the score look closer than the match really was.