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Betts clinches a Fredonia championship King also takes Section VI crown as Hillbillies win in Division II

With the Section VI Division II team title on the line Saturday night, the Fredonia Hillbillies had the right man on the mats at Niagara County Community College.

Record-setting senior Kenny Betts earned a 7-0 victory in the 152-pound final against Frewsburg's Jon Strong, sewing up the Hillbillies' fourth straight team title. Fredonia finished with 91 points, while Frewsburg was next with 84.

Betts, named the event's Most Outstanding Wrestler, also earned his fifth straight sectional championship and extended his Section VI wins record to an eye-popping 265.

"I couldn't be any more pleased and proud of his accomplishments," Fredonia coach Alex Conti said of Betts. "He's wrestled a really tough schedule, and what he's done is remarkable."

Betts, who earned a state championship as a 135-pound sophomore, said he wasn't nervous prior to his match.

"I've been in that situation plenty of times before," he said.

The Hillbillies also got a sectional title at 189 pounds, as Corey King held on for a 1-0 win over Southwestern's Drew Marchant. The two titles put a positive spin on what had started out as a tough night for the Hillbillies. Fredonia senior Carlene Sluberski, the section's first and only female champion, saw her title reign come to an end when she was defeated in the 96-pound final by Eden freshman Tom Page.

"It was a tough match. I'm disappointed because I didn't wrestle very well," said an emotional Sluberski after the match. "I hate to lose."

Page, a freshman who held the top seed at 96 pounds, jumped out to a 4-0 lead with a cross-knee pick and a half-nelson in the first period. From there, he was able to pick his spots and wrestle conservatively.

"There was a lot of pressure on her, so I was able to come out and just wrestle my match," Page said. "I was mentally prepared."

It was an emotional win for Page, who's coached by his father, second-year Eden coach Tom Page Jr. After the match, the coach said that his father, Tom Page Sr., had died about six months ago. Page Sr. was an instrumental part of his grandson's development as a wrestler.

"I'm extremely proud that Tom was able to continue on in his training," Page Jr. said of his son. "It was amazing for me to see, because I know how proud his grandfather would have been.

Page earned his first sectional title and improved to 37-5 on the season. Sluberski, the second seed who has committed to Northern Michigan, fell to 47-4 on the season and 114-35 in her career.

"It was tough for me to watch because she does everything I ask of her," Conti said. "She inspires me to want to be better."

Second-place Frewsburg also earned two sectional titles, as Kevin Strong won at 103 pounds and Dalton Scalf prevailed at 125 over Salamanca's Ben Haas, 8-5, in the match of the night.

Also claiming two titles was East Aurora. Senior Matt Peters rebounded from a second-place finish a year ago at 112 pounds, moving up a class to 119 and earning his second sectional crown.

"I practiced every day in the offseason to get back to this point," Peters (47-1) said. Also winning for East Aurora was sophomore Phil Czapia at 135 pounds. Czapia was the lowest-seeded wrestler, at No. 3, to earn a title.

"I've been to sectionals twice and never placed, so this was a good time to," he said.

A crowd of about 1,800 attended the two-day sectional championships, which were held at NCCC for the first time in at least two decades.

The 15 Division II (small school) champions crowned Saturday will join their Division I counterparts in representing Section VI at the state tournament next weekend at the Pepsi Center in Albany.

There's also still a chance some who didn't win this weekend will make the state tournament. Four at-large bids will be handed out across the state in each weight class. The bids, expected to be announced Tuesday, are based on previous performance at sectional and state meets.

e-mail: jskurski@buffnews.com

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