By JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – Any team in any sport can enjoy success with a good group or a talented class passing through it. But programs re-group, re-tool, re-focus, and then re-surface.
The Annville-Cleona wrestling program apparently hasn’t missed a beat after graduating 14 seniors.
On Wednesday night, the Little Dutchmen continued their inspired wrestling by slamming Northern Lebanon 52-25 in a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three match. While they benefitted from four Viking forfeits, the Little Dutchmen were victorious in five of the eight bouts contested on the mat and four of those wins were pins.
With the triumph, A-C, the three-time defending Section Three champion, improved to 9-2 overall and 2-0 in the section. The loss left Northern Lebanon 3-4 on the season and 0-1 in the league.
“It’s a completely different group,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Mike Miller. “We lost 14 seniors and 750 (career) wins. That’s a lot of individual wins. It’s a new group. The kids don’t know anything but winning, and they expect it. So far, so good.
“The kids have bought into the program,” Miller continued. “They’re buying what we’re selling. I have a great group of junior high coaches. And when you have consistency in coaching it helps. These guys are saying, ‘We don’t want to be the guys who break the streak.”
“They’ve (the Little Dutchmen) got a nice little thing working, at different levels,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace. “They were studs in junior high. Success breeds success. And when they get here (the varsity level) they’re ready to compete.”
After parlaying two falls and two forfeits into a 24-0 lead, Annville-Cleona sewed up the outcome with Keller Hess’ forfeit win at 182. Dylan Himmelberger, now 8-3, and Phil Corle, now 8-3, had staked A-C to its early advantage with first-period pins at the first two weight classes wrestled, 120 and 126.
Unbeaten Cody Beattie’s opening-stanza fall at 152 made it 30-4 Little Dutchmen, and teammate Justin Ulrich followed that up with a reversal-of-fortunes pin at 160. At 106, A-C’s Matthew Darok improved to 10-1 with a major decision.
“I’m never very confident,” said Miller. “I’m confident about our team, but I don’t take anything for granted. We can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
“I thought Justin Ulrich at 160 did a nice job,” Miller added. “He’s been wrestling tough. He’s a sophomore at 160 pounds. There’s men there.”
“It pretty much went as expected,” said Wallace. “We had a couple of matches we thought were going to be swing matches. They (the Little Dutchmen) obviously have more expereince than us. We have some guys who wrestle their butts off, but they don’t know enough.”
The most entertaining bouts of the evening were wrestled at 160 and 113.
After trailing 2-0 early, Ulrich appeared to be in big-time trouble in the middle of the third, with Viking Ryan Kelliher in control. But Ulrich reversed Kelliher, then quickly stuck him, at the 4:56 mark.
At 113, Northern Lebanon’s Tyler Hitz scored a 14-10 decision after outscoring A-C’s Tanner Pyles 7-3 in the final period. At one point Hitz trailed 7-2, but he hit a five-point move in the middle stanza to knot the score at seven.
“They do have a history,” said Wallace of the Hitz-Pyles bout. “They’ve been battling for a long time, since elementary school.
“We have three kids out with injuries,” added Wallace. “They’re hurt now. But when they’re healthy, we have a full lineup.”
Northern Lebanon’s top wrestler, senior 170-pounder Ryan Daub, scored a 57-second pin for the 99th win of his career. Daub is now 13-2 on the year.
“We have a decision to make,” said Wallace of Daub’s impending 100th victory, which could come as early as next Wednesday against Elco. “He’s going to wrestle his next match and there’s a possiblity of a revenge match. Daub is a light 170, he’s working his way down to 160 and he’s almost there. He just wants to get his 100 and get it out of the way.”
Northern Lebanon freshman Evan Daub rolled to a 10-1 major decision at 145.
“We bumped him a weight class to get him a match he could win,” said Wallace of Evan Daub. “He’s over-achieving for us right now.”