The Post-Journal

Beichner Takes The Losses With The Victories

Disappointing, but satisfying.

That's the best way to describe Clarion State's Jim Beichner's sixth place finish last week in the NCAA Wrestling Tournament in Oklahoma City.

Beichner, a native of Sinclairville and a graduate of Cassadaga Valley said, "I was disappointed with myself in the tournament. I was ranked third nationally all season and was third seeded in the tournament. But the NCAA Tournament is a very tough tournament so I can't really complain about sixth place."

"I look back at the tournament and think 'How many people even make it to the Nationals and then place?' I've got to take the losses with the victories."

The 190-pound grappler finished fifth last season and earned All-American honors. With his sixth place finish this season, Beichner once again earned All-American status.

Beichner became the first Eastern Wrestling League two-time All-American.

Also, he's the only Chautauqua County wrestler ever to earn All-American honors on the Division 1 level.

Clarion Coach Bubb said of Beichner and Ken Haselrig and Paul Clark who also competed at the NCAA Tournament, "I'm certainly proud of their performances at the Nationals. They worked hard, made significant improvements and represented Clarion University with a lot of class at the Nationals. We haven't had two All-Americans (Beichner and Hasselrig) in one year since 1979."

After losing a heartbreaking overtime decision on criteria to Mark Cody of Missouri in the quarterfinals, Beichner said, "I knew then I couldn't win the Nationals and I was real disappointed, but I wanted to come back and take at least third in the wrestle-backs. The one thing I didn't want to lose was my All-American status."

"It's tough to lose on criteria. My coach told me I'd lose on criteria if Cody and I were tied after the overtime. I'm not used to losing. It's frustrating when you are expected to win and then lose in overtime on criteria."

After wrestling seven tough minutes in regulation, Beichner had to go three additional minutes in overtime. "I'm not used to wrestling in overtime."

Ted Beichner, Jim's father, said, "Just one more point in that quarterfinal match. It fouled up the whole works."

Jim Beichner said if he would have won the quarterfinal bout, "I would have had an excellent chance of winning the semifinals. I think I could have beaten the guy."

Beichner said he was very confidant with his chances at the NCAA Tournament. "I felt good going into the tournament, but then I saw a couple of first seeds get beat in the opening rounds and I think that bothered me a bit. I feel at this level, however, the guy who doesn't make the mistake will win. Unfortunately, I made the mistake this time."

Beichner said that of the top six finishers in the 190-pound weight class, five of them are juniors so it is possible they'll go at it once again next season.

Cliff Blom, Beichner's high school coach at Cassadaga Valley, attended the NCAA Tournament to watch his former star. "Jim looked super out there. He lost twice in overtime, once 2-1 and the other time on criteria. You couldn't get much closer."

"All those guys in Jim's weight class were so close. If they all wrestled again, there would be different results."

Beichner had an excellent season as he finished with a 40-4 mark. He captured the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference for the third time, the Eastern Wrestling League title for the second consecutive year and also copped the Penn State and Wilkes-Barre Invitationals. Last season, he sported a 35-4 mark.

The 40-4 mark is the second best single season record in Clarion's history. Only Don Rohn's 41 wins in 1974 is ahead of Beichner, who is tied for single season wins with past greats Wade Schalles (40-0-1) and Bill Simpson (40-4-2). Beichner's career record is now 93-18, only seven shy of the 100-win plateau. He's also seventh on the Clarion all-time win list.

Bubb said of Beichner's chances next year along with teammates Haselrig and Clark, "We simply need to continue to fine tune each of their skills and hopefully they'll be right back at the Nationals. They know that it takes hard work and a total dedication to the sport in order to succeed at the Nationals. That type of work paid off big dividends for them this year and it will take that same effort and more to go back and better their placings in a year's time. Knowing our young men, I know that work will be done."

An elementary education major, Beichner said the best thing he did was go to Clarion where he took his lumps in the beginning. "When I was a freshman, I had better wrestlers below me and above me in weight and they beat on me in practice. They made me pick myself up and forced me to improve. I feel if you don't improve in your first year of college, you won't."

Over the summer, Beichner expects to keep busy on the mats. He'll be working at camps at Clarion, wrestling in several tournaments and has also put in his application to go to Italy on an NCAA all-star team.

Beichner, while busy on the mats at Clarion, still keeps in touch with wrestling on the local high school level.

"My cousin is Steve Penhollow and he gives me lots of information on what's going on in wrestling in the Southern Tier."

Penhollow is a two-time Section 6 champion and it's safe to say that Beichner has given Penhollow a few pointers over the years.

The thought of the 1988 Olympics has crossed the mind of Beichner. "I've thought about it. It's something all athletes think about. I've got a lot of time to think about it. I'd like to represent our country - it would be an honor."

Beichner would be out of school for two years so he said if he decided to take a chance at the Olympics, he'd have to hit camps and join clubs in order to get some competition.

Should he decide against the Olympics, Beichner said he'd like to return to the area and teach school and get a position as a high school coach.

But Beichner still has his senior year to look forward to.

"I thought this year would be the year I'd win the Nationals, but it wasn't. I've got one more chance and I want to make the most of it."

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