BY JEFF FALK
HERSHEY – Everyone has grand ideas. What sets successful people apart is an ability to put those ideas into action.
Ten percent inspiration. Ninety percent perspiration. Oh, and don’t forget preparation.
Luke Funck continues to realize his athletic potential. He has become the best wrestler he can possibly be.
On Saturday afternoon at Hershey’s Giant Center, during the third day of the annual PIAA Wrestling Championships, Funck grudgingly finished a satisfying fourth in the Class AA 182-pound weight class. The Northern Lebanon junior was nudged 4-1 by Dakota Greer of Franklin in the consolation final.
Funck was the only Lebanon County representative to reach the third day of the state tournament.
“All of the above,” said Funck to a long list of reasons for his success. “It was me working hard. My coaches pushing me forward. And my family and friends supporting me. It’s just not being satisfied. I really wanted that gold.”
“He’s a very self-motivated kid,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace. “He finds a lot of motivation within himself. When he puts his mind to something, he usually accomplishes it. He’s not a kid who skates by on talent alone. He stepped up this year as a worker. It’s nice to have kids who push each other. That’s a huge benefit for our kids.
“He has put in the time,” continued Wallace. “Our kids, as a whole, do a lot of work. This was about how much progress he has made. The work’s going to be there. He has a good work ethic. He’s good enough to win it (the state championship) next year. That’s going to be the goal, as of tomorrow.”
Against Greer, an early take-down and an inability to generate offense plagued Funck throughout. He gave up that take-down just seconds into their bout, then experienced difficulties penetrating Greer’s defenses.
Greer added an escape in the second stanza to pus his lead to 3-0.
Greer, the returning state champion at 182, entered the weekend ranked number-one nationally at the weight. In fact, all three wrestlers Funck lost to this season – eventual champion Greg Bulsak of South Park and Montoursville’s Garrett Hoffman – are all nationally ranked. And all three are seniors.
“In the first period he got a take-down,” said Funck of the 40-1 Greer. “I wasn’t ready for that shot. The rest of the match was him riding me. All three of my losses were to the guys who finished first, second and third in the state.
“You know you can always do better,” Funck added. “I hate to say that, but there’s always next year.”
“A first-period take-down is big,” said Wallace. “And in a one-minute first period, it’s really tough. When it’s 3-0, we have to go down in the third period. At least he gave himself a chance.
“Pennsylvania is such a tough wrestling state,” continued Wallace. “I thought we did a nice job. We competed. We gave ourselves a chance.”
Funck did give himself a chance, with an escape with about 35 seconds to go, that made it 3-1. But it was Funck who was hit with a penalty point in the waning seconds.
“I feel all right,” said Funck, who went 0-2 at states as a sophomore. “I just used what happened last year as motivation for this year. And I’m going to use this year for motivation for next year. What I did was good, but there’s better. Right now, I’m kind of disappointed.”
“He didn’t win a match here last year,” said Wallace. “He got on the medal stand this year. His only three losses were to the kids who were in the finals, and to Greer, who up until this weekend was ranked number-one nationally.
“He had a super year,” added Wallace. “Everyone who finished ahead of us are seniors. He wants to come here and win the gold medal next year, and he absolutely can.”
Funck was the first Northern Lebanon wrestler to capture a state medal in 15 years, when current Viking assistant coach Jim Collins won Lebanon County’s only PIAA gold. Funck, who earlier this season was crowned the Class AA champion of District Three and the Southeast regional, also became the first local wrestler to cop a state medal in a decade.
“Wrestling is my favorite sport,” said Funck, who is also an accomplished footballer. “Football is fun. But wrestling is my life. It’s what I’ve been doing all my life.
“For myself, it was a great accomplishment,” Funck added. “And for the school, it was also a good accomplishment.”
Funck’s fourth-place medal was just another in a long line of accomplishments for a Northern Lebanon program which enjoyed its greatest season ever – and Lebanon County’s best season of all-time. In addition, Northern Lebanon captured Lancaster-Lebanon League and Section Three championships, a District Three Class AA team title, a team championship at the District Three Class AA individual event and claimed an eye-popping 13 medals at the District Three individual event.
“The kids we have want to win so bad,” said Wallace. “Nothing is ever good enough. When you’re bad, you want to be good. And when you’re good, you want to be great. You might be happy with the things you’ve done, but you’re never going to be satisfied. We still want to be so much better.”
Bulsak pinned Hoffman in the first period of the finals, to garner the gold medal in the weight class.
To purchase images in this article email firstname.lastname@example.org, or to view more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-ten/.