HERSHEY — When you can keep your head while all around are losing theirs ...
Will Betancourt kept his head Friday afternoon at Hershey’s Giant Center, and to hear him tell it, there was no reason not to.
Betancourt advanced to Saturday morning’s Class 3A 120-pound semifinals of the PIAA wrestling championships with a 4-3 victory Friday afternoon over West Chester Henderson’s Killian Delaney, his roommate-to-be at Lock Haven University.
He’s joined in the semifinals by Penn Manor’s Nick Baker, who gutted out a 3-2 victory at 182 over Isaiah Reinert of Easton.
Holding a 4-3 lead, Betancourt found himself tied up in Delaney’s cross-body ride the entire third period.
He was in a guillotine (a combination of leg riding and an open side hook) the last 37 seconds.
“I had a game plan for choosing bottom,” Betancourt said of his third-period election. “I wasn’t going to rush getting out. I knew he needed to score points. I knew I wasn’t going to get turned.”
Betancourt took the early 4-1 lead, scoring twice on what appeared to be a modified fireman’s carry out of Delaney’s front headlock.
“It’s kind of a dump,” he said. “I’ve hit it on a lot of college kids.”
In the second period, just after Delaney scored his third escape off Betancourt’s single leg shot, the two traded ‘’funky’’ attempts but could not score.
“I get in those positions every day with the coaches, so I was very comfortable there,” Betancourt said.
Baker has enjoyed a comfortable living this year being in the right position at the right time, and Friday was no exception.
After strenuously defending a single leg shot by Reinert, Baker pounced and scored when Reinert turned the wrong way on a sprawl.
“I don’t even know what happened,” Baker said. “I just pushed the pace, kept going.”
Reinert reversed late in the second period, but Baker escaped midway through the third to retake the 3-2 lead.
Then things got interesting.
Reinert nearly had the go-ahead takedown at the edge with 37 seconds left, and again with five seconds remaining.
Baker denied him both times.
“I just never give up,” he said. “You make the best move every second and leave nothing out there.”
Garden Spot’s Charles Martin left nothing out there as he battled unbeaten Thomas Pollard at 285 pounds.
Each pummeled for advantage in a scoreless first period and Martin escaped to start the second.
Pollard took advantage of the only opening he created, scoring a shrug single at the edge midway through the second period.
With the match tied 2-2 in the third Pollard took command with an escape and takedown at the edge, blunting Martin’s throw attempt.
Martin escaped late, but got no closer than 5-3.
At 220, teammate Dustin Swanson met heavily favored Dorian Crosby of Erie Cathedral Prep and Crosby wasted little time showing why he was the favorite.
He took Swanson down with a single leg shot, turned him with an arm bar and picked up the fall in 1:08.
Cedar Crest’s T.J. Moore saved the L-L from being swept out of the consolations with an 11-5 victory over Evan Miller of Canon-McMillan in the second round of consolations at 220.
In the blood round Moore and Swanson both posted victories, guaranteeing them a spot on the awards podium.
Martin came up one win short of his medal pursuit.
Also getting eliminated Friday were Solanco’s Dom Flatt and Manheim Township’s Josh Hillard at 106, Lampeter-Strasburg’s Arik Harnish at 126, Penn Manor’s Dylan Coleman at 145, McCaskey’s Andrew Vogelbacher at 170 and Solanco’s Nick Yannutz at 195.