Party like it’s 1970: Barons win first Manheim title in 47 years

By on January 3, 2018
Manheim Central junior 120-pounder Cade Zeamer reacts after rallying from a five-point deficit in the finals to pin West Chester East’s Corey Celenza in the first period last Friday. Zeamer earned the tournament’s award for most falls in the least amount of time for his efforts. Photo by Mike Shull

Manheim Central junior 120-pounder Cade Zeamer reacts after rallying from a five-point deficit in the finals to pin West Chester East’s Corey Celenza in the first period last Friday. Zeamer earned the tournament’s award for most falls in the least amount of time for his efforts. Photo by Mike Shull

Will Betancourt didn’t have the look of a wrestler who just won the 113-pound title at the Manheim Holiday Tournament.

Shortly after stepping down from the medal podium, the Baron sophomore was still upset with himself.

“I was just disappointed that I didn’t wrestle from the start,” he said.

Still, Betancourt got the desired result.

And so did the Barons.

Placing eight — yes eight — in Friday’s finals and crowning two individual champions in Betancourt and 120-pounder Cade Zeamer, Manheim Central took home the team title for the first time since the tournament’s inaugural year in 1970. The MC grapplers scored 199 1/2 to edge out runner-up Bald Eagle Area (192 1/2) and third-place Methacton (133 1/2).

“It’s awesome,” said Baron coach Billy Chamberlain, “because all the hard work that the kids have put in really showed this tournament. They really came together as a group, they really came together as a family, and they put it together. It’s awesome to see them be able to have this success.”

The success didn’t stop with Betancourt (10-0) and Zeamer (8-5). Brandon Kheuangthirath (106), Zack Zeamer (138), Austin Sauder (160), Andrew Seigrist (170), Garret Fittery (182), and Keegan McCord (195) each claimed a silver, while heavyweight Tyler Doughterty finished with bronze, Ryan McKee placed fourth at 145 and Dalton Gainer took fifth at 220.

“We got on a roll (Thursday) in the semis and it went through,” Chamberlain said. “We ended up with six pins, a tech fall and a decision, and when you get into a momentum like that in a tournament, it just takes off and rolls.”

Betancourt is one of those who had a pin in the semi-finals, decking New Kent’s Ray Good in 42 seconds. The 113-pound championship match didn’t start off as well, with Methacton’s Corey Morabito scoring a four-point takedown with :47 elapsed.

“I just stopped wrestling and he caught me there,” Betancourt recalled, “and I just had to keep my mind right and battle back.”

It was still a 5-1 lead for Morabito when Betancourt got a takedown with 1:39 left in the second, then hit a four-point bar and half to grab a lead he never lost. He added a third-period escape to wrap up the 8-5 victory.

“Coach told me, ‘You’re good on top, crank on top,’ and I pursued what he said and it seemed to work,” Betancourt said. “I just kept doing that the whole match … I started slow and finished good, but if I want to do better than last season, I have to start good and finish good.”

Betancourt’s quest to be better, even following a title-clinching win, resonated with Chamberlain.

“We have high expectations this year,” he said, “and I think as a staff, we’ve really been able to set this expectation and have the kids buy into this philosophy that we’re always building, we want to be better every day and he’s one of the kids that really buys in. Same with Cade. They want to be a champion, and tomorrow it will be the slate’s clean and we’re ready to build again and we’re ready to attack the next fight.”

Cade Zeamer came a long way to capture the crown at 120, having placed fifth at the Manheim Tournament last year.

“It feels amazing winning and how I improved,” he said. “I kept my game plan and my mindset was right all through the year. I wanted to win this really bad, that was my goal.”

Apparently, Zeamer’s game plan included a lot of pins. He flattened Twin Valley’s Max DeFreitas in 1:00 in the quarter-finals, then decked top-seeded Zack Wasser, of Palisades, in 2:56 to punch his ticket to the finals.

“I like to go for the pins because that’s what I do best,” Zeamer said.

In the finals, West Chester East’s Corey Celenza jumped out of the gates with a five-point spladle with just 16 seconds elapsed. But Zeamer quickly countered with a reversal to grab control.

“When we hand-fighted and what led to (Celenza’s takedown), I could feel that I was much stronger than him,” he said. “I stayed calm, but luckily, I had my back pretty high up, so I was like, ‘Alright, I’m not getting pinned. Keep wrestling.’ Then I felt him slip, so that’s when I reversed him.”

Eventually, Zeamer caught Celenza in a cross-face cradle and ended the match with a fall in 1:44. For the tournament, he received the award for most falls in the least amount of time (5:40).

“I took it one match at a time, which is what I needed, and then I finally got to the finals and did what I had to do,” Zeamer said. “That was my game plan — go out there and wrestle hard.”

Kheuangthirath wrestled hard too, and he had some momentum after pinning top-seeded Jared Zartman, of Shikellamy, in 2:53 in the 106-pound semi-finals. But Bald Eagle Area’s Cooper Gilham was able to take the driver’s seat in the finals, taking an 8-0 lead after one and then winning by fall in a time of 3:47.

Zack Zeamer also had a tough customer in the 138-pound finals, where he met Bald Eagle Area’s No.1-seeded Seth Koleno. The Bald Eagles’ grappler took a 6-2 lead through two, then capitalized on an eight-point third period to earn the 14-5 major decision.

“Seth’s ranked number one in the State at the moment and he’s a solid kid,” Chamberlain said. “Zack battled him well and I think we have things that we can definitely take back to work on, but you can always find positives in every match.”

There were plenty of positives for Sauder in the 160-pound quarter-finals after he pulled off a 6-5 win over top-seeded Brandon Bauman, of New Kent, then came out victorious in another close match, 6-4, against West Chester East’s Dan Clifford in the semi-finals.

“It’s always great to be able to place higher than what you were seeded,” Chamberlain said. “The kids really came to battle and be champions.”

In the finals, Palisades’ Adam Marsh broke open a close match in the first period to earn a 13-2 major decision over Sauder.

Seigrist was next for the Barons in the 170-pound finals. He was coming off back-to-back falls in 2:33 and 5:08 in his first two matches, and then the MC grappler got within a point of Methacton’s Michael Blakemore, 4-3, with a second-period escape. But Blakemore was tough on his feet, and the Warrior senior added a third-period escape to hold on for a 5-3 victory.

At 182, Fittery had a first-round bye, then made quick work of New Kent’s Charles Gray with a 51-second fall. But in the finals, West Chester East’s Andrew DiBernardo — who earlier pinned top-seeded Evan Bingaman, of Shikellamy, in 1:56 — was able to score four takedowns in a 15-2 major decision for the title.

“The kid was just solid,” Chamberlain said of DiBernardo.

McCord ran into a solid kid of his own in the 195-pound finals in Josh Krieger, of Shikellamy. Krieger took an early 6-1 lead, but McCord answered with a five-point reversal in the final :09 of the period, tying it 6-all.

But the Braves’ wrestler went back in front 10-8 after two with a takedown and two-point nearfall, then went on to win 16-10.

It marked the third time in three tournaments this season that McCord finished with the silver medal. The Baron junior defeated Krieger at the season-opening Cumberland Valley Tournament.

“Keegan’s having a great season,” Chamberlain said. “It’s tough to come back and lose a rubber match like that, but Keegan’s definitely making big strides. It’s one of those things that by the end of the season, he’s going to definitely be where he needs to be.”

The Barons, as a team, are making big strides too.

“I love how the kids battled,” Chamberlain said. “I love how they went out and they fought, they wanted to be a champion in every position, and even until the last whistle, we were going forward, we were trying to put points up.”

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