HERSHEY – He’s a meat-and-potatoes wrestler with a chance to taste caviar.
Christian Clutter, a senior at McGuffey High School, won a 3-2 decision over Derek Brown of Penn Cambria in the 170-pound semifinals of the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championship at the Giant Center in Hershey Friday night.
Clutter will attempt to win McGuffey’s first title since Jeff Breese won at 112 pounds in 2001.
To do so, Clutter must defeat Jared McGill, a state placewinner last year from Chestnut Ridge.
Jonathan Vargo of Bentworth saw his chance for a gold medal dissolve in a 3-2 loss to Gaige Garcia of Southern Columbia in the 195-pound finals.
Clutter scored all his points in the second period on an escape and takedown. Brown cut the lead to 3-1 with an escape in the third period and got a stalling point before the buzzer.
“I thought (the bout with McGill) should happen, so I’m happy,” said Clutter. “Just being in this environment is awesome. I’ve never been in the state finals so I have to drink this in.”
It was the fourth time over the last two seasons Clutter and Brown wrestled. They split two matches in last year’s postseason and Clutter swept both this season.
“The last match with Brown, I remember getting pushed back,” said Clutter. “My coaches told me I had to dictate that match so I went out there and looked for that takedown more than I ever had before.”
Vargo gave up an escape and takedown in the second period before mounting a comeback in the third. Vargo escaped and got a stalling point in the third period.
“We had to withstand his initial attack,” said Bentworth head coach Mike Shrader.
“That kid comes out and tries to dominate kids right off the whistle. He ends up pinning them in the first minute, minute and a half. We withstood that attack and were within one slip along the edge of the mat of beating the No. 6 kid in the country.”
To get to the semifinals, Vargo won a dramatic victory, wiping away a 4-1 deficit by catching, then pinning Dane Csencsits of Saucon Valley in 3:52.
Vargo jumped to his feet then hit a pose to the cheers of the crowd.
“This win shows all the work I put in helped me,” said Vargo after the pin. “I knew I can;tt let my head get too big. Try to stay humble and wrestle my match.”
Clutter’s path was less dramatic. He pinned Dave Gakasso of Athens in 235. No muss, no fuss.
McGuffey’s Nate Yagle was eliminated at 13 pounds following a 5-0 loss to Connore Pierce of Harborcreek in the second round of consolations.
Bailey Grimbor of Harrisburg won a 6-3 decision over Beth-Center’s Jimmy Gwyer of Beth-Center at 120, ending his season.
Shane Kemper of Burgettstown won a 6-4 decision over Wes Davenport of Conneaut before being pinned by John-Rocco Kazalas of Quaker Valley in the 145-pound consolations.
Kemper’s brother, Riley, dropped a 7-6 decision to Emannuel Lawal of Church Farm School at heavyweight.
And Washington heavyweight Gerald Comedy suffered his second loss in this event when he was pinned by Max Wills of Greenville in 4:14.