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Clarion Making Progress On and Off The Mat Under Moore’s Leadership
Now in his fifth season as the head coach of the Clarion wrestling program, Teague Moore has not only helped the program make great improvements on the mat, but the team has also made huge strides off the mat. The Eagles have improved academically under Moore’s leadership and that success is also transferring over on the mat. Moore recently talked with WIN Magazine about Clarion’s wrestling program and offered some candid insight on what’s going on with the the Division I wrestling program from Northwest Pennsylvania.
By Matt Krumrie
WIN Magazine Contributing Writer
One look at the Clarion wrestling team on paper and fans will see head coach Teague Moore’s team is 2-0 on the season heading into Friday’s dual against Davidson in Davidson, North Carolina. Those two wins include a 25-21 win over Pennsylvania rival Edinboro – marking Clarion’s first win over the Scots in 12 years – and a 22-15 win over Princeton on Jan. 7.
But a look closer into the program finds much, much more is going on under Moore’s leadership. And, it also shows just how much really goes on within a wrestling team during season – on and off the mat. How so? Take this for instance:
“We are finally competing without external stress put on us do to outlying factors,” said Moore, who is in his fifth year as head wrestling coach at Clarion. “When I came to Clarion five years ago we were in serious jeopardy of losing scholarship money and/or post-season competition because of our poor APR results with the NCAA. Changes had to be made with the program but we had to be cognizant of the APR penalties if we made a hasty decision and recruited the wrong type of student-athlete. Academic success had to take top priority over athletic success. We skipped practices and made the team attend study sessions to ensure our classroom success. Now we are performing at the expected NCAA APR standard and it allows us to put more time and energy into the practices and getting better as wrestlers.”
The results have been obvious. In addition to the win over Edinboro, Clarion won the PSAC Championships (finishing first out of 10 teams) for the first time in 16 years and finished 17th at the Midlands – where they were in the top 10 after day one.
“These accomplishments are a reality and I don’t feel we’ve wrestle to our potential yet,” said Moore. “That is probably the most exciting part of our recent changes. We can still perform much better.”
Fleming Leading Way
Among top performers this season for Clarion is James Fleming, ranked No. 10 in the nation in the latest WIN Magazine Individual Rankings. Fleming finished fourth at Midlands and won titles at the Knightpoint Open, Body Bar and PSAC’s.
“Snapper, has really developed an offense on his feet that he lacked season,” Moore said, referring to Fleming. “If he continues to grow as a wrestler and he should make a run at a national title before finishing at Clarion. He’s unique in the sense that he has a high pain tolerance, will do what it takes to win and has a boxing background. On top of that he’s a fun athlete to coach because he likes winning and wants to be the best.”
Moore also hinted that an MMA career could be on the horizon for Fleming, who is from West Mifflin, PA.
“He’s won all the tournaments he did not win last season – that’s a great sign of progress.”
Bekzod Abdurakhmonov, a junior 165-pounder from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, who most call “Bek” is also making an impact.
“He trains very hard and is very intense during our daily workouts,” said Moore. “He wants to be a national champion and is willing to sacrifice what is needed to reach that type of goal. He is still learning folkstyle. For him to win a national title he will need to make more mental changes than technical changes.”
Moore said Bekzod has helped elevate Fleming’s neutral offense and Fleming has helped improve Bekzod’s top offense, said Moore.
“That would be the single biggest impact he’s had on our team. He keeps Fleming striving to get better,” said Moore.
The Clarion roster features 25 wrestlers, most from the east coast or within proximity to the Northwest, Pennsylvania school located in the city of Clarion. However, there is one that stands out – Thomas Gowing, a junior 125-pounder, is from Eugene, OR.
“Thomas’ junior college coach wrestled at Ohio,” said Moore, telling the story of how Gowing ended up on the east coast. “When Thomas decided to look at DI schools to compete at, Clarion was a natural fit for his academic needs and with me being a 125-pound athlete, that meant he could get hands on coaching from a lightweight coach. I’m excited to have our first west coast athlete in the room and I believe this show others that they can come east and compete at the DI level also. The athletes on the west coast are being robbed because of dwindling opportunities at the Division I level. I hope that Clarion has an even more diverse geographical makeup on our roster in coming years.”
News and Notes
Moore also opened up about some other members of the Clarion wrestling team, including talking about these tidbits:
* 149-pounder Anthony White, from Philadelphia, didn’t start wrestling until the 10th grade. Among his key wins this year is a win over returning All-American Torsten Gillespie of Edinboro.
* Fleming, who appears to be in the mix to earn All-American honors this year, never won a Pennsylvania state title.
* Alex Thomas, a 197-pounder from Seaford, DE, wants to be a monk.
* Cameron Moran (James City, PA) “wrestles 141 pounds but lifts more weight than our 197 pounders – and those 197-pounders are not weak.”
* 174-pounder Scott Joseph (Export, PA) almost died last fall when the local hospital misdiagnosed a rupturing appendix.
* Heavyweight Quintas McCorkle (Alexandria, VA) went 1-13 his freshman year and got pinned 9 times. He also never won a Virginia state title. This year, he beat then No. 10-ranked Nate Fernandez of Oklahoma at the Brockport Open. “That’s a big step forward,” said Moore.
“Clarion wrestlers, wrestle hard,” Moore added. “We might not always get our hand raised but we come out to do battle and make wrestling fun to watch for fans.”
About Matt’s Mat Notes
Matt’s Mat Notes is a new feature on WIN-Magazine.com which consists of news, notes and quotes related to developments on and off the mat in college wrestling. Author Matt Krumrie is the former editor of TheWrestlingMall.com and in addition to contributing to WIN Magazine and The Guillotine, is the author of the new book The Ultimate Guide to Wrestling Camps, a comprehensive guide featuring resources, tips and stories for parents and youth to high school-age wrestlers. If you have a story idea or suggestion, news, notes or tidbit, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org