BY JEFF FALK
HAMBURG – The first District Three team win in program history. And a loss that effectively ended an undefeated dual meet season.
It was that kind of night for the Northern Lebanon wrestling team.
On Wednesday evening at Hamburg High School, the Vikings experienced both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat at the District Three Class AA team tournament. After opening with a 43-21 victory over Wyomissing, third-seeded Northern Lebanon endured a 44-23 semifinal defeat at the hands of the second-seeded and host Hawks.
Hamburg had reached the semifinal match-up with the Vikes by shading another Lebanon County competitor, Elco, 60-17. The pair of victories propelled the Hawks into Saturday’s District Three final opposite top-seeded Boiling Springs.
For Northern Lebanon, the evening marked its fourth ever appearance in the District Three team tournament, its second in as many seasons and its first successful outcome in the event. Northern Lebanon, the two-time reigning Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three champion, saw its overall mark slip to 12-1.
Hamburg improved to 18-2 on the campaign.
“Two years ago we didn’t win a league match,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace. “Last year we went 17-5 and made it to the district duals. This year we made it to the district semis. That’s a credit to these kids. We’ll be back.
“Obviously we could’ve had a couple of better matches,” continued Wallace. “That was the first time all year a team came out and punched us in the mouth. We didn’t react all that well. The forfeit at 195 hurt. We had to bump our lineup around. We had to get a couple of matches to go our way.”
Against the Hawks, Northern Lebanon got hit by a runaway train right out of the chute. Hamburg won the first five bouts, three by pin and one by forfeit, to open a 27-0 bulge.
By the time Hamburg had clinched the outcome with a technical fall at 132 pounds, the Vikings had won just one of the first eight bouts. Northern Lebanon registered four wins after the victor had been determined.
“Momentum is huge,” said Wallace. “You’re in their gym. They have a big crowd. They have a heck of a team. They’re going to represent District Three well.
“Kids are kids,” Wallace continued. “You hope the scoreboard doesn’t change the level of intensity. But it’s only natural that it does. You can feed off that momentum. We’ve done that this year and they (the Hawks) did that tonight. Their kids came out and got after it.”
The only Viking who was able to stop the bleeding was freshman Zach Kelly at 113. Kelly’s 23-second pin made it a 27-6 score, but gave Northern Lebanon only a glimmer of hope.
Just a bout before, Viking Dustin Breidegan had carried a 9-4 lead into the third period, before getting pinned 59 seconds into the stanza. It was a similar story for Northern Lebanon at 126, where Quinn Blatt enjoyed leads of 2-0 and 4-2, before losing 6-4.
“After heavyweight, it wasn’t going our way,” said Wallace. “At 106, we got caught and pinned. We felt we legitimately had a shot at seven in the middle. What did they win by, 21? We thought if we could’ve gotten a couple of those to go our way it would’ve been a different score.
“The 2-1 loss at 152 was a tough one,” Wallace added. “And Quinn’s loss at 126 hurt. There were a lot of close ones in there.”
On the bright side for the Vikings, Quinn’s brother Caleb scored a decisive 11-2 triumph at 138, freshman Luke Funck parlayed a takedown with five seconds to go into a 6-4 triumph at 145, 160-pounder Craig Spitler notched a first-period fall and Evan Daub tallied ten of the first 11 points on his way to a 12-3 victory at 170.
Earlier in the evening, things went markedly different for Northern Lebanon against Wyomissing.
Daub’s 3-1 win at 182 gave the Vikings an early 6-0 cushion. Then over the next five weight classes, Northern Lebanon upped its advantage to 27-9.
The closest the Spartans would come the rest of the way was 33-18, with a fall at 138.
“I don’t know if we wrestled any better against Wyomissing,” said Wallace. “I felt we could’ve won a few more matches. We had some kids make some mental mistakes. But I don’t fault the kids for trying to win matches.
“It’s a great opportunity for our kids,” Wallace concluded. “We were talking on the bus ride over here, to see these kids and how far they came solely on their hard work, it makes me really, really proud of them. These kids can be really phenomenal over the next several years.”
In the opening round, Hamburg ran through Elco in a similar fashion.
Every one of the Hawks’ ten victories against the Raiders were of the six-team-point variety – nine falls and a forfeit. Five of Hamburg’s pins occurred in the first period.
“They did really well,” said Elco head coach Chad Miller of his depleted charges. “The lineup we put out there, it couldn’t have matched up better with them, if we were healthy. We had four JV kids wrestling. I would’ve liked to get another shot at Northern Lebanon, just because we know them.
“I was hoping for us to wrestle hard,” continued Miller. “I didn’t think our JV kids were going to come here and win. We just wanted to represent. I think our kids had a good time. They enjoyed the experience. I’m glad we made it. It was a tough stretch there in the regular season.”
The Raiders actually led 3-0 in that one, courtesy of Alex Centeno’s tough 4-2 triumph at 170 pounds. Then after the Hawks rattled off three consecutive pins between 182 and 220, Raider heavyweight Wes Bankus answered back with a 2:20 pin that pulled his side within 18-9.
Elco also got a 15-0, 6:00 technical fall out of Sean Pasquale at 113, that got it within 24-15, But all the Raiders could muster over the final seven bouts was Austin Rueppel’s 5-3 decision at 152.
“We take it for granted because we’re here so often,” said Miller of the Raiders’ amazing run of ten District Three team tournament appearances in the last 16 years. “We are a team of consistency. If I continue getting kids out, it makes it easier to be consistent.
“I think Hamburg’s pretty good,” added Miller. “But if all of our kids are here, we’re right there. Momentum means a little bit, if you know where the key matches are. But the kids don’t know where the key matches are.”
District Three Wrestling
Class AA Team Tournament
(at Hamburg High School)
Northern Lebanon 43, Wyomissing 21
170 – Travis Gates (NL) dec. Robert McCarthy, 8-1
182 – Evan Daub (NL) dec. Shawn Kilheffner, 3-1
195 – Chris Eaton (WYO) won by forfeit
220 – Matt Vines (NL) pinned Marquell Berger, 1:47
285 – Robert Dunbar (NL) dec. George Thompson, 4-0
106 – Dustin Breidegan (NL) dec. Connor Yourkavitch, 2-1
113 – Zach Kelly (NL) won by forfeit
120 – Chris Zechman (NL) pinned Nasir Combs, 1:52
126 – Quinn Blatt (NL) pinned Jason Kuzmierz, 0:58
132 – Gavin Arrendendo (WYO) dec. Caeleb Blatt, 7-5
138 – Kody Kresier (NL) pinned Angel Canela, 1:40
145 – Luke Funck (NL) pinned Caleb Naylor, 4:42
152 – Joey Emborsky (NL) maj. dec. Peter Bonino, 8-0
160 – Jared Hardinger (WYO) dec. Craig Spitler, 5-4.
Hamburg 60, Elco 17
170 – Alex Centeno (E) dec. Tyler Herber, 4-2
182 – Cody Miller (H) pinned Ryann Rolon, 0:23
195 – Austin Bashore (H) pinned Juan Rodriguez, 1:15
220 – Logan Lackey (H) pinned Jeremy Habowski, 3:03
285 – Wes Bankus (E) pinned Neil Oswald, 2:20
106 – Romeo Eaddy (H) pinned Andrew Pasquale, 4:33
113 – Sean Pasquale (E) tech. fall Michael Eicher, 15-0
120 – Sean Stanish (H) pinned Chad Puglio, 3:47
126 – Kerry Mega (H) won by forfeit
132 – Chris Kummerer (H) pinned Nick Knight, 3:15
138 – Nick Oswald (H) pinned Nick Smith, 0:52
145 – Andrew Kochel (H) pinned Alex Achey, 0:52
152 – Austin Rueppel (E) dec. Matt James, 5-3
160 – Ron Lavigne (H) pinned Justin Althouse, 3:26.
Hamburg 44, Northern Lebanon 23
182 – Cody Miller (H) pinned Travis Gates, 5:06
195 – Luke Kamp won by forfeit
220 – Austin Bashore (H) pinned Matt Vines, 3:25
285 – Blake Roberts (H) dec. George Thompson, 6-2
106 – Romeo Eaddy (H) pinned Dustin Breidegan, 4:59
113 – Zach Kelly (NL) pinned Micheal Eicher, 0:23
120 – Sean Stanish (H) pinned Chris Zechman, 2:53
126 – Jarrod Bickley (H) dec. Quinn Blatt, 6-4
132 – Chris Kummerer (H) tech. fall Kody Kreiser, 16-0
138 – Caleb Blatt (NL) maj. dec. Nick Oswald, 11-2
145 – Luke Funck (NL) dec. Andrew Kochel, 6-4
152 – Matt James (H) dec. Joey Emborsky, 2-1
160 – Craig Spitler (NL) pinned Ron Lavigne, 1:31
170 – Evan Daub (NL) dec. Tyler Herber, 12-3