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NTL WRESTLING: TOWANDA'S CLAY WATKINS EARNS 2ND STRAIGHT REGIONAL BERTH (2021-02-20)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
WILLIAMSPORT — Towanda’s Clay Watkins faced a familiar foe in the District IV, Class AA Championships fifth place bout Saturday.

It was fifth time he had seen Williamson’s Mikey Sipps, and used that familiarity to good use, as he won 3-1 to advance to the Northeast Regional Tournament for the second year in a row.


“I feel pretty good,” said Watkins. “We didn’t know we would make it this far earlier in the season. It’s great to know we’re here.”


In his match against Sipps a second period takedown proved to be difference. 


“I was hoping I wouldn't have to (face Sipps), but I did, so I just came in ready to wrestle,” explained Watkins. “We’ve wrestled many times before, so we both know what is coming. I just wrestled my best.”


Sipps got in on Watkins’ leg, and was able to elevate it, but Watkins didn’t go belly down. Instead, as they went to the mat, Watkins hipped to the side, and was able to get the takedown.


“I knew I could ride the rest of the match out,” he said.


As for next week, Watkins hopes to be able to break into the top three so he can qualify for the Super-Regional.


“I need to wrestle harder,” he said. “A couple matches today I did not wrestle my best. I just have to come next week ready to wrestle.”


His coach Bill Sexton was glad to his senior keep going.


“That’s the goal every year is to get as far as you can,” he said. “It’s the second year in a row he’s been able to make it to regionals, so he’s one step further in the tournament. And hopefully he’s able to keep moving after next week.”


Looking ahead Sexton’s goal is to get Watkins in his peak physical shape.


“You just want to stay healthy, you just want to stay sharp,” he said. “Maybe tack together five days of practice would be nice. At this point you’re not reinventing the wheel, you’re just trying to work on a few things, maybe on a specific opponent, but for the most part you’re just keep going along like you have been.”


After the shortened season they’ve had this year, being able to get to districts and wrestle some of the best will help come next week,


“It’s what you work for every year,” said Sexton. “I’m still kind of amazing were even having a district tournament this year.”


Watkins opened the day with a 3-1 loss to Benton’s Zach Poust in sudden victory, but he came back to get a fall against Montgomery’s Brad Leon in 4:59.


In the consolation semifinals Nathan Rauch pinned him in 3:37, setting up his fifth place bout.


Fellow senior Alex Perez (285) lost 2-1 to Meadowbrook’s Gunner Treibley in the elimination match.


In a good sign for the future, Towanda junior high wrestling coach Jacob Stroud was named the District IV Junior High Coach of the Year. The Black Knights went undefeated on the season and won the Junior High Sectional Tournament.


CUTLINE: Towanda's Clay Watkins eyes up Williamson's Mikey Sipps in the 5th place bout Saturday...PHOTOS BY MATT PATTON & CHRIS MANNING.



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