Wantagh's Clem brothers, Vanorden win county titles


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.

“I knew I had to be aggressive and once I got the first takedown, I felt confident,” said Anthony Clem, who has thrice avenged an early season loss to Dobbins and is also thinking state title. “He’s a tough opponent and we know each other well.”
The Warriors, who last month captured a third straight dual meet crown in dramatic fashion over Plainedge, also saw senior Jesse Vanorden repeat as a county champion. Vanorden, who after graduation will be flying high for the Air Force Academy, looked dominant in defeating Division’s Shane Moore in the 152-pound final, 10-3.
“I’m so happy and soaking in the moment,” Vanorden said. “I’m proud of myself and all of my teammates. I’m grateful for my family and all the coaches. I want to go out with a bang and win a state title.”
Vanorden was All-State last winter after placing third. “At the time I was content with getting All-State since I was a junior,” he said. “Now I’m a senior and I’m all-in.”
Also set to represent Wantagh upstate is 170-pounder Shareef McMillanm who reached the semifinals and battled back for second place.
“I’m so proud of all these kids,” Wantagh coach Paul Gillespie said. “They work so hard and give everything they’ve got. We’ve had an incredible season and we’re hoping to cap it off with some state champs.”