As he stood in for his finals match at the PIAA 3A State wrestling championships Saturday night, Manheim Central’s Will Betancourt was 60 feet from where he really wanted to be — the center circle of the championship mat.
Instead, wrestling for fifth place in the 120-pound weight class, he made the most of his opportunity, claiming his second career state medal — he was seventh at 113 last year — with a 2-1 rideout, ultimate tiebreak victory over Cameron Enriquez of Stroudsburg.
“It was a really stacked bracket,” Betancourt said. “So many kids ranked in the country, things didn’t go my way.”
Things went his way more Saturday, after a quarterfinal Friday where a friendship with his opponent, Council Rock North’s Luke Lucerne, and perhaps a bit of nerves, led to a 4-1 loss.
“I didn’t wrestle offensively,” he said, “that really affected me a lot.”
He rediscovered his offense after a Friday night talk with his coach, Billy Chamberlain and his father, Will Betancourt, Sr.
“Going back to the hotel last night they told me I’ve been wrestling offensively all season. It’s been working for me all season. Why change it at the state tournament?
“That really clicked with me. The last three matches I wrestled offensively and I came out of two of them.”
In the fifth-place match he and Enriquez traded escapes, with Betancourt having two good takedown shots stalemated by Enriquez.
With no scoring in the one-minute sudden victory period, action moved to the 30-second tiebreaks.
Enriquez rode out Betancourt in the first 30, as did Betancourt in the second.
With choice of top or bottom in the ultimate, 30-second tiebreak, Betancourt took top.
“I rode him out in the tiebreaker and I just felt confident,”Betancourt said. “I didn’t have any stall calls, and I’m really confident in my ability on top.”
Confidence that was rewarded.
Betancourt’s Saturday opened with a victory over West Chester East’s Killian Delaney, a returning state runner-up, 3-1 in sudden victory, scoring off a dump, switch-off to a single with three seconds left.
“If I would’ve wrestled like that, I would’ve been in the state finals,” he said.
That win matched him with Shane Hanson-Ashworth of Council Rock South, who he’d defeated twice this season, 1-0 and 2-1.
With a spot in the bronze medal match on the line, Hanson-Ashworth posted a 3-1 victory on a late takedown. He went on to take third with a 3-1 victory over Lucerne.
“It’s great to end the season with a win,” Baron coach Billy Chamberlain observed.
For Betancourt it was also great to rediscover his offense.
“It took me three years to finally be offensive at the state tournament,” he said.