BOILING SPRINGS – Up or down. Heads or tails. Red or Green.
Did the flip of a coin determine the fate of Northern Lebanon wrestlers during a rare appearance in the District Three Class AA team tournament last night?
Put it to you this way: the Vikings lost the coin flip and lost the dual meet. A different choice would’ve changed the result, but whether or not it would’ve been enough to switch the winners and losers, well that’s purely speculation.
As it was on Wednesday night at Boiling Springs High School, Northern Lebanon fell to Schuylkill Valley 47-21 in the quarterfinals of the District Three event. The Panthers were victorious in ten of the 14 bouts, and they logged six falls.
But it could’ve shaken out another way.
Northern Lebanon, the fourth-seed and champions of Section Three in the Lancaster-Lebanon League, dropped to 16-5 on the season. It was just the Vikings’ third appearance in the District Three team wrestling tournament in school history, and first in seven years.
The win pushed Schuylkill Valley to 18-3 and into a semifinal match-up with host and top-seeded Boiling Springs, which hammered Upper Dauphin 72-5 in another quarterfinal on the adjoining mat.
“Overall, we wrestled fairly well,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace. “We lost the coin flip. That was an 18-point swing. When we lost that, I thought we would’ve won four more matches. We didn’t get the match-ups we wanted.
“If we win it, I think we have a chance to win,” continued Wallace. “I think that gives us four more wins. I really think it’s a different match.”
Another thing that didn’t go the Vikings’ way was the 195-pound bout between their own Derek DiAngelis and Schuykill Valley’s Jonathan Tindall. The two combatants battled through 5:59 minutes of close-to-the-vest, defensive action, before Tindall was awarded a questionable escape at the final horn.
The escape certainly wasn’t clear cut, and it appeared earlier in the bout that DiAngelis was close to a takedown. But the 1-0 final in Tindall’s favor gave Schuylkill Valley a 34-21 lead.
And a bout later the Panthers wrapped up the result with Dante Giorgio’s first-period fall.
“It was 0-0 and I was frustrated to begin with,” said Wallace of the 195-pound bout “I thought their kid was stalling. It was 0-0 and we had an arm all the way around his waist for ten seconds, and we didn’t get the two points. That’s huge, especially in a match like that. Bring ’em to their feet and go to overtime. I think Derek was wrestling under the impression the kid didn’t get any points. He’s a competitor. He wanted it.
“We had them (the Panthers) scouted on paper,” Wallace added. “We knew who we were going to wrestle before we got here. We can look at that paper all day long, but the kids have got to perform.”
After falling into an early 10-0 hole, Viking sophomore Caleb Blatt dug his club part of the way out of it by registering a 1:25 fall at 126. Then two bouts later at 138, Joey Embrosky pulled Northern Lebanon to within 13-9 of the Panthers with a 7-1 decision.
At 152, sophomore captain Evan Daub scored a 2:40 fall to get the Vikings to 19-15.
“Evan and Caleb, we look to them for bonus points,” said Wallace. “They get after it. They’re leaders, and that’s what they’re supposed to do.”
At 182, Northern Lebanon senior Tyler Sellers picked up a pin, at the 1:49 mark. That moved the Vikings to within 31-21 of Schuylkill Valley and the lead.
But the Vikings’ fate was all but sealed by the controversial decision at 195.
“I don’t think they were really affected by it,” said Wallace of his competitors’ inexperience in the event. “Running through the league, every night was a tough night. They were in pretty intense environments every night. We approached this like just another dual meet. And just let the chips fall where they may.
“It’s great for our guys,” Wallace continued. “We have done a lot of work the last three years to get to this point. We’ve got a bunch of juniors coming back, and our goal is getting here again.”
In the four bouts that they weren’t pinned, Northern Lebanon competitors were outscored by a combined margin of 26-5.
“We’ve got the County tournament coming up (Saturday, Feb. 9 at Cedar Crest),” said Wallace. “Until then we’ll be reflecting on our success and enjoying our season. The kids seem to be getting better every week. Our goal is to win everything. Then our goal is get as many kids to the postseason as we can.”