Joseph Clem already knows what it feels like to finish third and runner-up at the New York State wrestling championships, but the Wantagh High School senior has no plans to settle for anything less than the top spot on the podium in a few weeks when he gets to Albany’s MVP Arena.
“The way last season ended was a huge disappointment and I really want to win it all this time and be on the wall of fame in our school,” Clem said after earning his third consecutive Nassau County Division 1 title last Sunday at Hofstra University with a 4-2 victory over Plainedge’s Jake Nieto in the 131-pound final, marking the fifth time he’s gotten the upper hand in the matchup this season. “I’ve been working hard on improving my conditioning and that’s helped me a lot this year,” he added.
Clem, who captured third place in the state at 118 pounds as a sophomore, went one step further last winter when he lost a hard-fought 4-2 decision to Niagara Falls’ Jaden Crumpler in the title bout at 126.
“I can’t say I don’t think about that match, but at the same time there’s nothing I can do about it now but go back up there and win,” said Clem, who’ll take a record of 53-3 to the Feb. 23-24 statewide stage. “It’s motivated me even more to finish the job.”
Joseph’s twin brother, 116-pounder Anthony, repeated as a county champion and also comes off a state runner-up finish last season. Both are bound for West Virginia University. Anthony Clem defeated Shane Dobbins of Plainedge in Sunday’s Nassau final, 5-0, and has won 44 of 47 matches.