Hard work pays off for local wrestler at state championships

- A great wrestler is built by hard work, focus, determination.  For the past year, no one exemplifies those qualities more than Exeter’s Austin DeSanto.

"I try to train my best every single day.  I don’t want to waste my time," Austin explained.

"If he takes a day off he feels like he never worked out before.  That is how he is wired.  To have that kind of drive as an 18 year old kid is kind of crazy," Assistant Wrestling Coach Joe Astern added.

Wrestling has been a part of Austin’s life since he was in the first grade. Like most wrestlers, a Pennsylvania State wrestling championship was always a goal.

"No slight on the kids on our team but we have a lot of kids on our team that want to be good.  We only have one that wants to be the best and that is Austin," Coach Astern explained.

Keeping Austin from being the best was 126 pound senior Spencer Lee from Franklin Regional High School.

"Three time undefeated PIAA state champion, three-time world champion.  He is the man to beat.  He was number one in the world," Astern said.

Spencer Lee has gone undefeated his entire high school career, 144 and 0.  A quick search of Spencer on Youtube you will uncover volumes of footage dominating opponents in his weight class, including a 15 to 0 win against Austin in last year’s state final.

"I went out there and wrestled and he destroyed me pretty hard.  My coach told me that day one starts after that match.  I have been working my butt off every day from that," Austin explained.

His hard work paid off.  At 132 pounds Austin beat every opponent he faced leading to the State tournament. But instead of staying away from Spencer at the weight class above, Austin decided to drop down and wrestle him one final time.

This year was different.  Austin’s game plan was to control the pace from the beginning.

"I think he only shot that one time.  He was pretty much on defense," Austin recalled.

"Right here, I remember watching the match Lee kinda gives you a nod like ok you came to go," Coach Astern said.

It remained close till the third period, Austin down by three with 90 seconds left in the match.

Then came a two-point takedown for Austin.

"I could feel that he was getting tired a lot.  I would just listen to my coaches to keep letting him up," Austin recalled.

With five seconds left, Austin needed a takedown to win. He did just that.

324 days since their last match, Austin had won a state championship for himself and the school.

News instantly spread throughout the country, and millions watched online.

A few days after the match Spencer congratulated Austin via Twitter, saying, “I give Austin credit for dropping down to wrestle me and thanking him for reminding me why I love this sport so much, it has a way of giving you the highest of highs but also the lowest of lows.  Good luck in your following years at Drexel.

You learn from the sport of wrestling that there are no short cuts or easy opponents.  In life, if your goal is to win a championship like Austin, you have to work harder than anyone else to achieve it. 

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