NEWTOWN >> After 12-and-a-half periods of being frustrated and denied by Boyertown's Jay Maldonado, Downingtown East's Keanu Manuel finally found the shot to break through.
Tied at one in sudden victory, Manuel finished his first takedown in his fourth match against his nemesis to claim the 120-pound title at the Class 3A Southeast Regional tournament.
"It's a huge win," Manuel said. "I've wrestled him three times in the past and each match ended the same way. I had a little trouble scoring on him and it feels really great to get the win in overtime. I finally got that takedown."
Manuel joined Wade Cummings as the only Cougars to win two regional crowns. The East senior, who has now placed at regionals three straight years, switched his attack on Maldonado to the outside, where he had more space to capture those elusive points.
The timing couldn't have been better, as it sets Manuel up with a more-favorable draw at next week's Super Regional at Quakertown High, where the top four finishers from the Southeast meet the top four finishers from the Northeast Regional.
"After last season I was really upset," said Manuel, who lost in the blood round of states the last two seasons. "The biggest lesson I learned was, no matter how hard you work, nothing is guaranteed. I thought I was going win a medal and I had the wrong mindset. I'm going into next weekend with the same goals as every other year."
With Boyertown's streak of regional champs snapped at eight years, Downingtown West took over the active lead after Dom Findora (126) made it five straight.
For the second straight week, Findora erased an early takedown by Interboro's Nate Shippey in the final by scoring the final five points, to claim his first regional title.
"It was an ugly win, but I still got it done," Findora said. "I'm not satisfied, but I just have to go back to work next week."
Due to COVID-19 protocols, the tournament was split, with 106-138 competing at Council Rock North, and 145-285 wrestling at Council Rock South.
At South, the 172-pound bracket was in disarray, and Kennett's Darrale Barrett took full advantage. After being seeded No. 8 at the District 1 South tournament a week ago, Barrett won his first two matches, Saturday, to become a regional finalist.
"It feels good," Barrett said. "To be honest, I came in here just being happy that I was a regional qualifier. From last year not making it out of districts, to say I'm a regional finalist, it means a lot."
"After my first match and I saw Romanelli got upset, I said, 'I can be a regional finalist,'" said Barrett, who, along with Trent Kochersperger, gave Kennett two regional placers in the same year for the first time in school history.
Nate Lucier (132) also wrote his name in the Coatesville record books, joining Mike Boykin as the second two-time regional champ. Lucier moved to 14-0 on the season with a pin, a technical fall and then a 12-5 win over Perkiomen Valley's Kelly Kakos in the final.
"I always make sure I'm focused," Lucier said of the lack of competition he's faced this postseason. "I never lose focus. My main goal is to dominate. I'm trying to perform every match, every minute, every second."
West Chester Henderson advanced the second-most (four) wrestlers in the tournament and finished second in the team race, behind Spring-Ford. Sammy McMonagle (145) suffered his first loss of the year, in the finals, 3-1, against Bensalem's Connor Eck. Koh Bauman (189) took third, and Carmen Cortese (113) and Billy Wilson (126) earned fourth.
Oxford's Cannon Hershey (120) kept his short season alive with a third-place finish. After not competing at all during the regular season, Hershey placed at regionals for the second straight year.
"Last week I felt a little slow, starting off," Hershey said. "I knew I had some business to do, this week, and I felt a lot better. I felt more energized and more focused and on point."
The Ches-Mont sent 15 kids to the Super Regional, second to the Suburban One League (18). Others placing at regionals were Kochersperger (third at 138), West Chester East's Andrew Luke (fourth, 145), Downingtown East's Bo Horvath (fourth, 160) and Romanelli (third, 172), West Chester Rustin's Marek Seaman (fourth, 172) and Sun Valley's Ryan Catka (first, 215)