ANNVILLE – The subject would have you believe the factors range from longevity to filling a lineup to team work.
But in reality, the real reasons are consistency and stability and conditioning.
On Wednesday night at Annville-Cleona High School, Chad Miller’s Elco wrestling team captured its 300th dual-meet victory in the same fashion it had won its previous 299 – by wrestling hard, picking up bonus points when opportunities presented themselves and by encouraging member support. The Raiders wore on, wore down then wore out Annville-Cleona 49-21 in both sides’ Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three dual-meet finale.
The triumph was the 300th of Miller’s 19-year coaching career at Elco, a total believed to be unsurpassed in Lebanon County history. The win also left this year’s Raiders 14-6 overall and 5-1 in the section, and dropped the Little Dutchmen to 7-7 on the year and 3-3 in the circuit.
“It means a lot to me,” said Miller. “The first thing I think of is: ‘Man, I’ve been doing this a long time’. The reason we’ve been successful is we get as many kids out as possible, even guys who have never wrestled before. We don’t always have the best individuals, but we come together as a team. It has nothing to do with what I’m doing. It’s about the kids working hard. At some schools, wrestling is an individual sport. Here it’s not.
“Some programs that struggle don’t have coaches in the school,” continued Miller. “That’s essential, especially in wrestling. We have a good relationship with the football program. We’re getting stronger, from the beginning of the season to the end. The hardest part of my season is the first two weeks, getting the kids out.”
“Chad is a great guy,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Jerome Simon. “I have all the respect in the world for him. I just wish he hadn’t gotten his 300th win against us. But he’s done a phenomenal job. He took some lumps, but consistently that’s what Elco has. What they have this year is the same they’ve had the last three years. They’re tough kids. That was a typical Elco team.
“I’m not disappointed in our record,” added Simon. “I’d like to have one more win here or there. We’ve got three dual meets left and it would be nice to end up with a winning record. But we’ve definitely shown improvement throughout the year.”
Nursing a ten-point team lead six bouts into the match, Raider Cole Miller received a forfeit at 195 pounds, before 220-pound teammate Quinten Weaver stuck Annville-Cleona’s Alex Wilson at the three-minute mark, to lift Elco’s advantage to 25-9. Heavyweight Tyler Horst kept the Raider run rolling with a 12-6 decision, but Little Dutchman Matt Inman interrupted Elco’s momentum with a first-period fall at 106.
The Raiders clinched the result with Tristan Ruth’s forfeit at 120 pounds, which gave them an insurmountable 40-15 bulge.
“They’re similar to us,” said Miller of the Little Dutchmen. “They don’t have a lot of superstars, but they have a lot of good kids. Per wrestler, I thought we were a little better than them. I thought it was going to be a ten-point win or a ten-point loss.
“If I had to judge talent at most weights, I would think they’re (the Little Dutchmen) a few points below us,” Miller continued. “I don’t think they had any moves they would’ve done differently. They might have been a little flat. They’re better than 49-21.”
“It wasn’t the outcome we wanted, but it was the outcome we deserved,” said Simon. “We didn’t wrestle well. There were three toss-up matches and we lost them 15-0.
“We struggled on our feet today,” Simon added. “We were making shots, but not finishing shots. We wrestled tough on the bottom. I saw a lot of fight in them (his wrestlers), but they looked uncomfortable.”
Elco jumped out to a 19-0 lead by claiming the first four bouts.
Raider Owen Nell opened with a 9-0 whitewashing at 138 pounds, while Cameron Know logged a 3:28 fall at 145. Elco 152-pounder Trey Donmoyer pinned A-C’s John Allen in 47 seconds, and Greg Onisa turned a 5-0 lead into a 7-2 decision at 160.
“It wasn’t a big deal,” said Miller of the milestone. “I think it’s more of a team thing. I’m real proud of the consistency we have. I don’t think I’d change anything at all.
“I don’t think second-place (in Section Three) matters,” added Miller. “If Northern Lebanon is district champs and we’re second to them, what are we going to do? It puts things in perspective. It’s a little disappointing when you can’t compete.”
“I honestly thought it would be seven-to-seven (bouts won during the match),” said Simon of the outcome. “I knew we’d have to forfeit one or two, but I thought we could do it. That did not work out at all. I thought we would get bonus points in some areas, and we didn’t get them. When they got that early lead, I knew we were in trouble.”
With the outcome in hand, Elco’s Alex Puglio turned in a 56-second pin at 120 pounds. At 126, Shawn Price of Elco parlayed a late reversal into a 4-2 win over Hayden Funck.
“What I’ve had success with is finding ways for kids to contribute,” said Miller. “They come into wrestling thinking: ‘I can get a good lift. I can get stronger. And I can be part of a team.'”
“The League meet is Friday and Saturday, and then we have nothing next week,” said Simon. “We’re going to have to work on our conditioning. We’re going to have to work on our technique. Hopefully we can get them (his wrestlers) peaked at the right time.
“To be honest, its one of those years,” continued Simon. “Some of our dual matches were one-sided one way or the other. The Donegal match was a close one.”
Little Dutchman Zach Renninger logged a 13-second fall at 132 pounds. Annville-Cleona’s Kole Stout scored six straight second-period points on his way to a 10-4 victory at 170. And teammate Brayden Turner picked up a 3:40 pin at 182.
“Zach’s opening up,” said Simon of Renninger. “He’s much better, technically. He’s been wrestling well, and he wrestled well today.”
“I’m trying to get kids motivated for the postseason,” said Miller. “Their goals aren’t as high. Our kids haven’t seen Hersheypark Arena.”
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