In the 77-year history of the Philipsburg-Osceola-Clearfield wrestling rivalry, it’s doubtful there was ever a night when both teams were able to leave the gym feeling good about what happened.
Not until Tuesday night.
Because while the visiting Bison won the meet, 51-23, this was about more than takedowns and near falls.
Because the two long-time rivals linked arms in a show of support in the fight against cancer, raising $20,000 for the Emily Whitehead Foundation. For those who are unaware, she’s the young Philipsburg girl who overcame the odds and did beat cancer and now she and her family are doing all they can to help raise funds to fight the disease.
“That amount stunned me,’’ said Clearfield coach Jeff Aveni. “That shows what rivals can do when they come together. When Tim (McCamley, P-O coach) and I talked about this, we were hoping to raise maybe a couple of thousand dollars but we didn’t think anything like this.’’
Aveni lost a sister to cancer while McCamley saw a brother-in-law die from the disease, so both had a vested interest.
“I was overwhelmed,’’ McCamley said. “I’m just glad it happened here. I’m glad we could pull it off. What both (wrestling) clubs have done is just outstanding.’’
Outstanding could describe what the Bison did to open the meet as they registered five straight falls — they had eight in the meet — to spring out to a 30-0 lead.
Levi Wisor opened the scoring with a fall over Noah Quick at 195 pounds.
Then, at 220, in what figured to be the premier bout of the night, Clearfield bumped once-beaten Travis Ogden up to 220 to face P-O’s Micah Sidorick. The bout was even until midway through the second period when Ogden escaped, took Sidorick down and cradled him for three points at the buzzer. Starting on defense in the third period, Ogden reversed Sidorick and stacked him for the fall at the 4:35 mark.
“We moved Levi up and he got us a fall to start the meet,” Aveni said. “And I’m not sure Travis (Ogden) was giving up that much weight to Sidorick. Sidorick isn’t a full-sized 220-pounder but he’s a strong kid. We knew Travis would have to make some adjustments, but I don’t think I’ve ever coached a kid who is better at making adjustments during a bout than Travis.
“We got off to a great start and then Nate (Lash) picked up where Travis left off.”
And it carried over into the lightweights as Clearifeld’s Matt Ryan pinned Braedon Butler in 1:22 at 105 and Jude Pallo stuck Noah Clark in 2:47 to give the Bison a huge cushion.
“We got punched in the mouth right off the bat,” McCamley said. “They got the momentum going and we were never able to get it back. Jeff (Aveni) made the right moves in the upper weights.
“Our effort was there but we didn’t wrestle our best. But they made it look like we didn’t know what we were doing. They came ready to wrestle. They had too much firepower for us.”
The Mounties finally got on the board at 120 when Noah Twoey pinned Cole Smay in 3:27 and Matt Johnson made a first-period takedown stand up for a 2-0 win over Hunter Blake at 126.
Clearfield’s Josiah McClarren topped Bryce Bennett, 3-2, thanks to an escape and takedown in the third period and P-O’s Levi Hughes followed with a 7-1 win over Logan Gilbert thanks to three takedowns.
Dakota Weitoish made it two in a row for the Mounties when he pinned Tallin Norris in 1:19 at 145.
But the Bison went back into pin mode at 152, where Zane Morgan needed only 1:21 to finish Payton Moore.
The Mounties got their last win of the meet at 160, where Nick Patrick teched Steven Sawyer, 22-7, to set the meet score at 39-23.
They couldn’t get closer as Landon Cross pinned Ian Klinger in 50 seconds at 170 and Hunter Wright pinned Brandon Anderson in 2:29 for Clearfield’s eighth fall of the meet.
But when it was over both coaches were effusive in their praise for the night’s atmosphere and the cause it stood for.
“When we got here and got off the bus people had to part ways for us just to get into the gym,”Aveni said. “What a great atmosphere. I told our kids that this atmosphere is fun and they should enjoy it. I came up to the gym just to look around and when I went back down to our locker room they were playing hackey-sack. They were loose.”
In addition to the money raised for the Emily Whitehead Foundation, a Chinese Auction was held as well as a silent auction for an NCAA championship jacket donated by Quentin Wright, the two-time NCAA champion from Penn State and two-time PIAA champion from Bald Eagle Area. And in keeping with the spirit of the evening, the winner of the 50-50 drawing, a Clearfield fan, donated the entire $282.50 back to the Foundation.
“This was for a good cause,” McCamley said. “It was good for the community and good for wrestling.”
And good for the soul.