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Wrestling: Atlantic City’s Amaury Ortiz redeems himself by earning trip to regions in final season

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher A year ago, Atlantic City 195-pounder Amaury Ortiz was disappointed in himself. He seemed to be on cruise control early in the District 32 tournament, as he pinned Holy Spirit’s Mason Murphy after a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed. All he had to do was get past St. Augustine Prep’s Ryan Lynd and he would be wrestling for a district title. But Lynd scored a 3-1 victory in the semifinals, which started a rapid freefall that ended Ortiz’s season. In the third-place consolation bout, Ortiz lost 3-2 in double overtime to Egg Harbor Township’s Connor Agostino. Agostino went on to win the Region 8 championship and got to taste the thrill of wrestling in front of 10,000 fans at the state championships at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. Ortiz, well, he just got to go home — his promising season over in the blink of an eye. “It’s very important,” Ortiz, now a senior, said of advancing to the Region 8 tournament this year. “Last year … it’s all wanting it. I couldn’t go out this year without making it out of districts. I felt bad last year. I even thought about it during the match (this year), that if I can’t get up, it’s going to be the same and I’ll be depressed for a couple of days. I couldn’t let that happen.” It looked as though Agostino and Ortiz might end up wrestling for the district title last season, but the top two seeds both got upset in the semifinals. Mainland Regional’s Kolin Roberts, the No. 5 seed, pinned Agostino with just four seconds left in their semifinal bout and Lynd, the No. 3 seed, upended Ortiz. Lynd went on to edge Roberts 6-5 to win the title in one of the most exciting weight classes at last year’s districts. Ortiz had a year to think about those losses to Lynd and Agostino. He came in as the No. 4 seed and had a chance to avenge the loss to Agostino, but the EHT junior was simply too tough and scored a pin in the semifinals, sending Ortiz into the knockout third-place bout against none other than Lynd. Ortiz was in control throughout much of the match and built up a 3-1 lead heading into the final minute. But Lynd scored a takedown with 18 seconds left near the edge of the mat to tie the score, 3-3. Ortiz and Atlantic City coach Tim Mancuso both knew Ortiz had made a mistake in not being able to deflect Lynd’s double-leg takedown shot. “I guess I was thinking too much,” Ortiz explained. “I had a lot of things going through my head, and he got (the takedown). But I saw the time left, and I knew I could get out.” Atlantic City senior 195-pounder Amaury Ortiz advanced to the Region 8 tournament this year after being upset in the third-place bout at districts as a junior. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Atlantic City senior 195-pounder Amaury Ortiz advanced to the Region 8 tournament this year after being upset in the third-place bout at districts as a junior. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) The bout got pretty physical, which only served to hype up Ortiz even more. With the two wrestlers in the neutral position, each time they pushed each other out of bounds and the whistle blew to bring the action back to the center of the mat, Ortiz would pound his chest as he allowed himself to be immersed in the energy of the crowd. That led to a momentary slip in his focus, which allowed Lynd to score the tying points. “I was a little worried about him. We put a lot of pressure on him and he put a lot of pressure on himself. He drills with all kind of guys. He gets the best training partners there are, and he works hard. He takes those guys down in the room,” Mancuso said. “He gets out fast, but sometimes when he gets to the match he gets too excited and starts tiring out. That leads to fatigue, but it isn’t really physical fatigue, it’s mental fatigue. Like, he gave up that two (point takedown) with 18 seconds left, and that’s mental fatigue. You have to move your feet.” Ortiz was able to escape in the final 10 seconds to secure a 4-3 victory and claim the final spot in the weight class for the region tournament. “This is my last year. I was able to put things together at the end and get third. I wish I had gotten first, but I’ll take it,” Ortiz said. “One of the first things my coach said at the beginning of the season was ‘get out.’ We worked on (escapes) all season in practice. I probably have the fastest stand-up here.” Mancuso said that as a coach, you just have to deal with the excitability of a wrestler such as Ortiz; it’s part of what makes him as good as he is. Yes, it hurts him at times, but trying to corral that energy might do more harm than good, Mancuso said. “He makes it exciting. He’s a great kid who works hard. He boneheads it sometimes during a match, but on the other hand, 195 is a really competitive bracket,” Mancuso said. “All those kids are good. There are some tough wrestlers in that bracket.” Ortiz’s passion is easy to see, and he was all smiles after being able to redeem himself from last season’s disappointing finish. “I love this sport, and I’m here to do this sport,” he said. “I’ll come back next year just to help out the guys. I can’t leave this sport.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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