Chlebove a state champ - again
Julian Chlebove acknowledges that he has plenty of “haters” in the wrestling world, but that only seems to motivate him.
The Northampton senior came away from last weekend’s PIAA 3A wrestling championships with his third state title in four years after dispatching Bethlehem Catholic’s Kenny Herrmann 6-2 in the 132-pound finals.
It was the seventh-straight win over Herrmann and the third in as many weeks en route to completing his K-Kid career on the mats.
After sitting out his junior season due to personal and disciplinary reasons, Chlebove reminded everyone in Hershey why he’s an Arizona State recruit, commanding his way through the tournament like a savvy veteran to lead Northampton to a sixth place finish in the tournament, as the Kids brought home four medalists.
Chlebove was the only finalist for Northampton, working through a difficult 2-1 semifinal win over North Hills’ Sam Hillegas in a matchup between two, top-10, nationally ranked wrestlers. Chlebove scored a reversal in the second period to ultimately earn him the victory in a bout that was deemed as the true state final.
Being able to work through a championship-type semifinal was just part of the job.
“I came in here and every match was the same to me,” Chlebove said. “My motto was just to stay calm and that’s what I went out and did. Those last 20 seconds of the semifinal were tight, but I just needed to keep my composure and it worked out. I knew the semis was going to be a big match, but once it was over, I was on to the next one.”
Chlebove recorded a fall and technical fall in his previous two bouts of the tournament prior to the semis and then handled Herrmann comfortably, scoring two takedowns and not allowing the Becahi junior to really come close scoring on offense.
“I just went out there and tried to put on a show and score in different positions,” said Chlebove. “Herrmann is a tough, defensive wrestler, but I always expected to win. I think I’ve matured more as a wrestler and I was pretty confident going into the match.”
After sitting out last year and having time to reflect on who he was and what he wanted to become as a person, Saturday night’s finale on the PIAA mats may have been the conclusion of his high school chapter, but hopefully will be the beginning to a prosperous next phase of his life.
“It feels awesome to come back and win this because I have a lot of haters,” said Chlebove. “There’s a lot of people that don’t want to see me succeed, but I also have a lot of support from my family and the wrestling community. It’s great to come out here and represent my school and get another title.”
Head coach Seth Lisa echoed support for his star senior wrestler, knowing that the team’s success this year leaned heavily on Chlebove’s leadership.
“I think all the adversity he’s faced the past two years has made him stronger and I’m just so proud of him,” said Lisa. “At the beginning of the year, I was wondering how his mindset was going to be, but he was a great leader for us and seeing him mature and be vocal meant a lot to the team. This was a very similar team to last year and we achieved great results this season because of Julian’s leadership.”
Northampton brought six wrestlers to the tournament and as mentioned previously, brought home a contingent of four medalists, as Devon Britton (138, sixth), Jagger Condomitti (145, fourth) and Michael Kistler (152, seventh) each found their way to the podium in the Giant Center. Britton battled through a painful rib injury throughout the postseason and was still able to come away with a medal. Condomitti was hoping to see a rematch with Becahi’s Ryan Anderson in the state finals, but lost to Paniro Johnson of Erie Cathedral Prep 7-6 in the quarters, to bounce him into the consolation round. Kistler recovered from losing his opening bout of the tournament in the round of 16 to win three-straight in the consolation round and win his seventh place bout by a 7-1 decision over Coltin Jezioro of Peters Township.
“Jagger is as talented as anybody that’s been in our room and he’s upset taking fourth, but he’s a sophomore,” said Lisa. “As far as Devon, I got a lot of pain for him because his goals were to be a state champion, but the injury really held him back. He came out here and accomplished a tremendous feat by taking home a medal. It was a pretty darn good performance for our team. We had a state champion and had four guys come home with medals. There’s not much I can complain about.”