What a Finish: Dougherty’s fall at 285 lifts Barons to L-L title

By on January 30, 2019
Manheim Central senior Tyler Dougherty reacts after pinning Lampeter-Strasburg’s for the League heavy-weight title last Saturday. His fall also boosted the Barons to their second straight L-L team crown. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Manheim Central senior Tyler Dougherty reacts after pinning Lampeter-Strasburg’s for the League heavy-weight title last Saturday. His fall also boosted the Barons to their second straight L-L team crown. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Tyler Dougherty was already plenty motivated going into the Lancaster-Lebanon League Tournament’s heavyweight finals last Saturday night.

The Manheim Central senior was finally healthy after sickness and injury prevented him from competing in L-Ls for the past two seasons.

Then shortly before Dougherty was due to step on the mat, he got a visit from coach Billy Chamberlain.

“He told me, ‘I want you go wrestle your match, but just so you know, if you pin or get extra points, we’ll win the team title.’ I used that as something to push me through the match,” Dougherty said. “I knew I needed to get the win for the team.”

That’s exactly what happened.

When Dougherty pinned Lampeter-Strasburg’s Zach Shelly in 2:49, the Baron heavyweight not only sealed his first League title, he also clinched a second straight L-L team crown for the Barons.

“To come in my senior year and win it,” Dougherty said, “it means a lot. It just means a lot winning it for the team and winning it for myself.”

The victory by Dougherty — along with golds by Will Betancourt (120), Cade Zeamer (132) and Keegan McCord (182), bronze by Conner Zeamer (138) and a fourth by Austin Sauder 152) — capped an improbable comeback by the Barons. Betancourt, Cade Zeamer, and McCord were all top seeds and Dougherty was a No. 2 seed.

At the end of Friday’s round, they were fifth with 89 1/2 points, well behind then-leader Conestoga Valley (124 1/2).

“Coming into (Saturday), we didn’t even think we had a shot,” Chamberlain admitted. “We were like, ‘We’re down numbers-wise compared to other teams. Let’s just go out there and have fun.’ And once we started getting things rolling and we realized where we were, we were like, ‘Let’s take care of business.’”

All they did was score four falls and a major while going 6-for-6 in Saturday’s morning semi-finals and Round 5 Consolations to turn the tide.

Later, the Barons won all four of their matches in the championship finals on their way to leap-frogging Northern Lebanon 184 1/2 to 183 1/2 for the crown.

“Awesome,” Chamberlain said. “Usually, you want to have your fate in your own hands. but it wasn’t. We had to have some things fall in line for us and our guys had to take care of business.”

When the dust settled, Manheim Central was on the winning side of more than 20 falls in the two-day tournament.

“The kids went for it, trying to get pins,” Chamberlain said, “and that’s what they did.”

Betancourt, a junior 120-pounder, accounted for four of those falls all by himself, taking home the D. Kenneth Ober Outstanding Wrestler Award and the Floyd ‘Shorty’ Hitchcock Most Falls/Least Time Award.

Oh yeah, he also won his third L-L championship in as many tries.

“I just think of it as another match,” Betancourt said after decking Northern Lebanon’s Brandon Breidegan in 1:04 in the 120-pound finals. “This is all preparation for States, and my ultimate goal at the end of the season is to win States.”

After pinning Annville-Cleona’s Azriel Merjudio (1:43) CV’s Rafael Rodriguez (2:49) and Pequea Valley’s Jace Beegle (1:25) in his first three bouts, Betancourt took down Breidegan with a sweep, then executed an arm bar to put it in the books.

It left Betancourt (29-2) just two wins shy of 100 for his career.

“(Breidegan) was defending it pretty hard at first,” Betancourt said, “and I just took my time, didn’t rush it, and it came to me.”

Cade Zeamer, who suffered a 6-2 loss to Cocalico’s Josiah Gehr in last year’s 120-pound finals, also took care of business.

His 30th win of the season — and 95th of his career — was an 8-2 victory over Octorara Area’s Braedan Amole for the 132-pound gold.

“It’s a lot better winning than losing like last year,” Zeamer said. “But it’s just one step closer to my goal, and that’s placing at States. I’m glad I got this one under my belt because it feels good to be an L-L League champion.”

His low single-leg takedown, one of three in the match for Zeamer, with just :10 left in the first period, got things rolling against Amole. He eventually went up 4-1 after two and cruised.

“(Coach Chamberlain) came to me before the match and said, ‘Keep dominating, keep going your pace and he’s going to break eventually,’” Zeamer said. “Toward the end of the period, I felt him break, I got that two and it felt nice because I was like, ‘OK, that’s a good way to go into the second and third.’ But in my mind, I knew I had to keep rolling.”

Earlier, Zeamer (30-4) pinned Garden Spot’s Corey Zeamer (4:50), Cocalico’s Toby Haldeman (1:37), and Lancaster Catholic’s Caden Droege (1:34) before scoring a 9-1 major decision over Solanco’s Joey Vandegriff in the semi-finals.

McCord (28-7), too, scored plenty of bonus points at 182, recording three falls over Township’s Hank Farrell (1:28), Norlebco’s Seth Ebersole (5:04) and L-S’ Logan Davidson (5:06), in addition to a 17-2 tech fall (4:58) against Octorara’s Lucas Thompson in his first four matches.

Then in the finals, a takedown by McCord (96-44 career) with :44 left in the first period stood up as the difference in a 3-2 conquest of Penn Manor’s Nicholas Baker for the gold medal.

Dougherty (14-2 season, 44-19 career), of course, completed Manheim Central’s perfect 4-of-4 run in the championship finals.

Just five days after defeating Shelley 9-3 in a dual meet, Dougherty decked the Pioneers’ wrestler with 49 seconds elapsed in the second to clinch the team crown for the Barons.

“He had all his weight on one side of his body,” Dougherty remarked, “and I just tried to crank a half and it worked. He ended up on his back, but he fought hard.”

“When Tyler jumped up, you could tell that yes, he was happy to win,” Chamberlain said, “but he was happy to be able to come through and be that senior leader on the team that brought us the title.”

Earlier, Dougherty pinned Pequea Valley’s Bobby Broomell in 1:26 in the first-round, then scored a 3-1 decision over Garden Spot’s Charles Martin, and flattened Northern Lebanon’s Nicholas Goodyear in 2:50 in the semi-finals.

“We’ve been in the (wrestling) room all season long and coaches have been saying, ‘How good do you want to be? How bad do you want it? How hard do you want to fight for your family?’ And I think today,” Dougherty said, “we fought really hard. The six of us all placed as high as we could.”

That included Conner Zeamer (22-13 season, 58-37 career), who pinned Annville-Cleona’s Hayden Funck in 3:41 in the 138-pound bronze medal match, and Austin Sauder (17-14 season, 43-32 career), who suffered a 3-0 loss to Hempfield’s Ian Edwards in the 152-pound third-place match.

“I was extremely proud of the kids and the way they wrestled and competed,” Chamberlain said.

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