FREDERICKSBURG – There’s not much in the regular season which captures the imagination of the Northern Lebanon wrestling team these days. Now that may sound a bit arrogant for a county which is not steeped in wrestling tradition.
But its really a level of confidence, which the Vikings have earned through hard work.
On Wednesday night inside Northern Lebanon High School’s packed gymnasium, during an evening set aside for the recognition of our military, the Vikings continued their unintentional drive toward another Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three championship with a 70-3 demolition of Annville-Cleona. The Vikings removed any suspense from the dual meet by winning 13 of the 14 weight classes.
In improving to 3-0 overall and 3-0 in Section Three dual meets this season, Northern Lebanon has now outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 234-3 and has dropped only one section bout. The reigning District Three Class AA and Lancaster-Lebanon League champion Vikings appear well on their way to a fifth straight Section Three crown, and haven’t dropped a section dual meet in quite some time.
The Little Dutchmen, who actually entered the fray in an early-season first-place tie with Northern Lebanon, dropped to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the circuit. Against Annville-Cleona, Northern Lebanon logged eight falls, recorded two technical falls, scored two decisions and registered a forfeit.
“I don’t know. Maybe 2012,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace of the last time his program was beaten in Section Three. “I’m not 100 percent sure. This’ll be our fifth section title if we can win out.
“We expect that out of our kids,” Wallace continued. “These guys are 11-month wrestlers. The only month they take off is September. When you put that kind of work in, you want to win. They deserve to win. They win these matches in the spring time. This is just a super dedicated group of kids, a super dedicated group of families, right now.”
“I’ll be honest with you, we wanted to battle,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Jerome Simon. “We wanted to have tough match-ups. We wanted to see what they had right now. I told our guys, ‘Push yourselves. Take them into deep water’. I thought we fought hard.
“To beat them, the stars would’ve had to align perfectly,” added Simon. “On paper, there would’ve had to have been a good amount of upsets.”
While the outcome may have been a forgone conclusion, it didn’t become official until Viking Alexander Martz doubled up A-C’s Alex Wilson 14-7 at 220 pounds. Martz opened up an 8-2 lead on the way to the decision that made the team score 41-3.
Prior to Martz’s clincher, Northern Lebanon had posted senior Luke Funck’s first-period pin at 182, Ethan Herb’s 6-2 decision at 170 and Luis Negeririos’ pin at 160.
“We don’t talk about winning and losing,” said Wallace. “We talk about our mindset. We want to wrestle at a high pace. We wanted to score points. We try not to worry about match scores, or worry about bout scores.
“We never really talk about the section,” Wallace added. “It’s not a concern of ours. Annville-Cleona is a cross county school and you know they’re going to come out ready to go. But no match is more important than any other.”
“They’re very good,” said Simon of the Vikes. “They’re very solid. What they do, they do well. We struggled mightily on the bottom, trying to defend their tilts. The last few years they’ve been very good. They tilted us like crazy.”
Annville-Cleona actually grabbed a 3-0 lead when Hayden Funck notched a 9-2 decision at 126. Engaged in a two-all tie with Chase Bressler, Funck scored seven unanswered points in the second period.
But Trevor Leonard sent Northern Lebanon off and winging with his 15-0, 5:02 technical fall at 132. Zach Kelly built the Viking momentum with a first-period fall at 138, while Stevie Herb contributed a 2:50 pin at 145.
And when Blaise Bressler turned a 4-2 lead into a 1:27 fall at 152 pounds, the Vikings had a 23-3 lead.
“I don’t know if anyone really stood out,” said Wallace. “We had a lot of young kids in the lineup tonight. To see those kids in tight matches, and to win bouts in the third period is super important. We wanted to wrestle hard for six minutes, score points and let everything else take care of itself.
“Any time we can pay tribute to military men and women who serve us, it’s special,” continued Wallace. “If I had my choice, we’d have military night every night. It’s an honor. And we had a great crowd tonight. We had a really cool environment.”
“Hayden was very tough on top,” said Simon of his Funck. “He’s a very smart kid, and he’s been making improvements. On his feet, he has a nice defense.
“Trevor (Leonard) is very good on top, and he’s very good defensively on his feet,” Simon continued. “Zach (Renninger) was just getting tilted and tilted and tilted. He battled him, but Trevor is very tough on top. So far, it’s been going very good for Zach. He’s wrestled Trevor for years. He’s very familiar with his moves.”
With the outcome secured, Northern Lebanon kept coming.
Hunter Wallace notched 14 straight points to record a 16-1, 2:28 technical fall at 220, before teammate Kyle Sonnen logged a 52-second fall at heavyweight. Viking 103-pounder Kyler Anspach scored a third period fall of Matt Inman, after their bout at 103 pounds was knotted at five through two stanzas.
Northern Lebanon’s Colin Leonard picked up a 57-second pin at 120 pounds, and Brandon Breidegan was awarded a forfeit at 113.
“We’re about where we need to be,” said Wallace. “We’re not in February form yet, but it’s not February. We have some improvements to make. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish that matters.
“We want to win a district title,” added Wallace. “We want to be on the last day of team states wrestling for something important. That’s where we want to be.”
“Our goal was to battle,” said Simon. “Coming in, we were going to try to go after their best kids and see what happened. If I would’ve picked the matches, I don’t think I would’ve changed anything. It’s early January, but now we have a measuring stick.
“The thing is, we have nice numbers (on the junior high level),” Simon added. “I know Rusty brought a lot of his freshmen up (to the varsity level). I hate to use the term ‘rebuilding’. We have a pretty even mix of older guys and younger guys. They’ve made progress. I wanted them to battle and go after them (the Vikings) hard. But some of our guys were outclassed.”
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