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Betancourt’s State medal hopes dashed by injury
Will Betancourt was literally wrestling with just one arm.
Just one win away from guaranteeing himself a spot on the medal podium at the Giant Center in Hershey last Saturday, the Manheim Central freshman found himself in a third-period predicament.
It started when Betancourt, trailing just 1-0 against Moon’s Frankie Bonura, jammed his hand while trying to switch things up against the Tiger junior.
Due to the clock expiring during an injury timeout, and doctors unable to fix a seemingly dislocated index finger, he returned to the mat without even having the opportunity to apply tape to the hand. An ultra-sound at the completion of the match actually revealed a broken finger.
Betancourt, not knowing the extent of his injury at the time, gutted it out the rest of the way. But Bonura (44-5), capitalizing on the injury, tilted him for two back points and held on for a 3-0 victory in the 106-pound Round Three consolations. While Bonura went on to capture a fifth-place medal, Betancourt ended his season with a 34-4 record.
“It’s just unfortunate,” a dejected Manheim Central coach Troy Sunderland said, “and those things happen, and (Will)’s certainly good enough to be one of the top kids in the State. But it didn’t work out that way.”
In a rookie season which saw Betancourt win the L-L League, Sectional and District Three Triple-A titles, he also became the first Manheim Central freshman in program history to qualify for States.
“Certainly, if things happen a little bit differently,” Sunderland said, “he can easily place. His goal was to get on the podium and he was basically a match away from doing that, so he was real close.”
“Close” wasn’t exactly a word to describe Betancourt’s first-round win over Father Judge’s Liam Logue (38-7). Taking a 5-0 lead in the first period, Betancourt cruised to a 9-0 major decision over the Crusaders’ sophomore.
“Nice, solid match,” Sunderland said.
Manheim Central’s coach downplayed the idea that Betancourt might’ve had nerves going into his first match in the Giant Center.
“(Will)’s wrestled here a lot growing up in different tournaments and things,” Sunderland said. “That wasn’t really a concern. He was eager to get here in terms of the last two weeks at practice. He’s ready to compete. I just talked to him about focusing on the small things. Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.”
That focus was evident early on, as Betancourt hit a fireman’s dump, then switched to a double-leg for a takedown with 46 seconds elapsed. In the final 10 seconds of the first period, he added three back points to extend his lead to 5-0.
“I just came out there ready to wrestle and be aggressive and try to wrestle my style,” Betancourt recalled. “… Even when there’s short time on the clock, I want to try to score points. Anything to give me an advantage going into the next period.”
Following a scoreless second period in which Betancourt rode out Logue, Betancourt opted to go back on top for the third period.
“We didn’t want to go down,” Sunderland said. “(Logue) has a pretty good cradle series from top, so whether we went neutral or top … it was a choice of what (Will) wanted to do.”
Betancourt ended up getting three back points on a tilt with 1:00 left in the third. Then a stalling point against Logue with :05 left set the final margin.
Next up in Friday’s quarterfinal round was Betancourt’s friend Luke Lucerne (36-8), of Council Rock North, who came away on top in their previous meeting.
“It will be a good test,” Sunderland said.
Sure enough, it was. Ultimately, Lucerne advanced with a 4-0 shutout.
In the first period, with Lucerne blocking Betancourt’s attack using a front headlock, the Indian freshman got on the board on a takedown with 1:20 remaining in the stanza.
Luzerne then took bottom in the second, scored a reversal with :15 elapsed and rode out Betancourt for the rest of the period.
“We felt pretty good about (being on top),” Sunderland said, “and (Lucerne) just did a real nice job getting off the bottom and getting a reversal. And he’s tough on top. We knew he had legs on top and was pretty tough with some things, but with that inside bar, he did a nice job running it. I thought it came out which would have made it an illegal move, but … (didn’t get the call).”
Betancourt opted to go neutral in the third, but he was unable to capitalize, again being frustrated by a front headlock by Lucerne, who held on to win.
“Lucerne did a nice job just shutting him down, slowed the pace down and that front headlock tie-up really slowed him down and took (Will) out of his game,” Sunderland remarked.
Points were still hard to come by in the opening period against Bonura in the consolations.
Neither wrestler scored in the first two minutes, and then Bonura, from the bottom position, took a 1-0 lead in the final seconds of the middle stanza due to a locked hands call against Betancourt.
That set the stage for the third, where an injury to the Manheim Central grappler in the opening moments all but ended his season.
“He really wasn’t able to defend himself,” Sunderland said.
Eventually, Bonura scored two back points on a tilt with 1:28 left, extending his advantage to 3-0, and that was how the match ended.
“(Bonura) just basically held his arm, the opposite arm that was hurt, but (Will) couldn’t use his hand to peel to get the wrist free,” Sunderland said. “… He’ll recover and it will make him work harder to (get on the podium) next time and he has three more opportunities. You want to take them one at a time and appreciate and value each opportunity you have.”
About Bruce Morgan
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