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IMG_2668BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – The Viking wrestling team really has no desire to be the best that’s ever been. What they want is to be better than Northern Lebanon has ever seen.

On Thursday night before a spirited audience, Northern Lebanon continued to redefine wrestling greatness by routing rival Elco 47-27 in a key Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three dual meet. Despite the absence of two senior leaders, Northern Lebanon won nine of the 14 bouts, six of which were six-point victories.

With Elco nursing an early 12-10 edge, the Vikings ripped off two falls, a major decision and a decision from 152 pounds through 182 pounds to assume a 29-12 advantage. With a forfeit win at 106 pounds pending, Northern Lebanon cinched the win when junior Matt Vines decked Raider Robert Kreps at the 3:22 mark of their 220-pound bout.

IMG_2726The triumph all but clinched the Vikings’ third straight Section Three championship, a feat that few teams in any sport at Northern Lebanon have ever accomplished. It also has onlookers scrambling for references to Lebanon County’s all-time best wrestling teams.

With two section dual meets remaining, Northern Lebanon is 4-0 in the circuit and 8-1 overall. The loss was Elco’s first in Section Three and left it 2-1 in the league and 12-3 on the season.

“It is important to us,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace to the possibility of his squad going down in history as the best Viking wrestling team ever. “I was lucky enough to be on the (19)94 team that went undefeated. We’ve won two section titles in-a-row, and these guys have the ability to sustain it. But our goal is not only to be the best wrestling team in school history, but the best sports team of any kind at Northern Lebanon. And there’s been some very good teams at our school. But these guys are expecting to win. It’s important to them.

IMG_2650“We have a really complete team,” continued Wallace. “We only had four seniors in our lineup tonight. That’s evidence of our depth. Wrestling is a numbers game. There were a lot of times we lost to Elco just because we didn’t have enough kids. Now we have 30 kids on our roster. We don’t look at it as varsity and JV. We look at it like you’re a Northern Lebanon wrestler.”

“It’s hard to say (how good the Vikings are),” said Elco head coach Chad Miller. “I’m looking at Boiling Springs and Bermudian Springs as being in the top tier of (Class AA) District Three. I would say they’re (the Vikes) the third best team in our district.”

“They’re (the Vikings) solid,” Miller continued. “They can make their lineup a little better. They might not have one state (qualifier) kid, or they might have four state kids.”

IMG_2711After the squads split the first two bouts, Viking freshman 152-pounder Luis Negrerios gave his side the lead for good with a 34-second fall. Then sophomore Luke Funck notched a similar 43-second pin at 160 to bump Northern Lebanon’s lead to 22-12.

Senior Evan Daub kept things going Northern Lebanon’s way with a 9-1 major decision of Elco’s Austin Rueppel at 170. At 182, Craig Spitler overcame an early 2-0 deficit to beat Elco’s Ryan Rolon 9-4, a decision that gave Northern Lebanon a 17-point margin on the scoreboard.

“I’m a never-ending critic. I’m always a pessimist,” said Wallace. “We didn’t wrestle well. We have high expectations, and if we’re going to achieve them, we’re going to have to wrestle better than that.

IMG_2755“We knew coming in that they (the Raiders) were going to be a road block if we wanted to win the section,” added Wallace. “Plus, it’s a county rivalry. There was a lot of emotions floating around here. Their (his wrestlers’) job was to show up. But we didn’t have a lot of focus.”

“I didn’t expect it to be close,” said Miller. “That has nothing to do with our team being over-matched. Most of the matches we weren’t the favorite. I knew there were guys in their lineup we had to beat. We had to take advantage of their weaker kids.

“I thought we did really well,” Miller added. “We have a young team, in some aspects. We were probably a better team last year than we are this year. But we competed better this year, and they’re (the Vikings) a better team this year. With our kids, I was really pleased about the effort.”

Shawn Campbell got the Vikings off on the right foot with his 9-1 subduing of Elco’s Cam Krow at 126. But Owen Nell answered for the Raiders, in the form of a first-period fall that gave Elco a 6-4 edge.

IMG_2635Northern Lebanon’s Quinn Blatt made short work of Elco’s Nick Smith at 138. But Randy Wintersohl got it back for the Raiders, with a 5:30 fall at 145 that made it 12-10 Elco.

“We had a starter out tonight,” said Wallace. “We were forced to slip in another freshmen. We had some young kids in there – eight freshmen and sophomores. Two of our leaders (Caleb Blatt and Joey Embrowski) were out of the lineup.

“We got the flip, and we wanted some of our guys to wrestle their good guys,” added Wallace. “It’s nice when things don’t go your way to be able to fill in with kids. There were times when we were able to make do.”

IMG_2672“I didn’t even look at the scoreboard,” said Miller. “From the very first bout, we lost the match. We had to win that first match. But you never know. We always want to compete well in the section, and we have a chance to finish second.

“Our only big surprise was at 120,” Miller continued. “That’s a win we didn’t expect. If anyone overachieved that was it. I don’t think we had anyone underachieve.”

Thanks to a first-period take-down, Elco’s Wes Bankus emerged with a 2-0 victory over Northern Lebanon’s George Thompson, in a defensive duel at heavyweight. Viking 113-pounder Chris Zechman opened a 5-0 lead on his way to a 2:21 decking of Raider Alex Puglio.

And at 120, Elco’s Shawn Price emerged with a 5:32 pin, after his bout with Zach Kelly had been tied at two following two periods of action.

IMG_2621“We haven’t had a dual meet where we’ve wrestled poorly,” said Wallace. “This is a tough gym to come into. They always have a nice crowd here.

“We truly believe in (Class) AA that we are a team that can absolutely qualify for the state tournament,” continued Wallace. “But outside of our room, I’m not sure anyone believes we can do it. We’re the Rodney Dangerfield of District Three wrestling. We get no respect. But we don’t have goals, we have expectations.”

Elco’s Jeremy Habowski scored a 1:36 pin of Northern Lebanon’s Hunter Wallace at 195. Dustin Breidegan of Northern Lebanon received a forfeit at 106.

“Things are going excellent,” said Miller, whose program has jumped up to Class AAA this season. “Much better than I thought they would. The young kids are gelling and stepping up. But I don’t want to say we’re completely solid.”

 

IMG_2752Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three Standings

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Northern Lebanon 4-0 8-1
Elco 2-1 12-3
Annville-Cleona 3-1 6-3
Donegal 1-2 1-2
Columbia 1-2 1-8
Lancaster Catholic 1-3 1-7
Pequea Valley 0-3 0-7

District Three

 Class AAA Power Rankings

IMG_2630AAA School W L T Rating

1 Lower Dauphin 1 0 0 .841600
2 South Western 2 0 0 .828571
3 Central Dauphin 3 0 0 .817123
4 James Buchanan 1 0 0 .801299
5 Northern York 2 0 0 .796588
6 Cedar Cliff 8 0 0 .787761
7 Wilson Senior 3 0 0 .783415
8 Mechanicsburg Area 5 1 0 .779429
9 Milton Hershey 9 0 0 .77766
10 Governor Mifflin 7 1 0 .741702
11 Exeter Township 8 1 0 .733243
12 Red Lion Area 5 1 0 .705321
13 Spring Grove Area 2 0 0 .697761
14 Solanco 3 0 0 .694109
15 Cumberland Valley 3 1 0 .692928
IMG_262216 Eastern Lebanon County 12 2 0 .678085
17 Conestoga Valley 7 1 0 .677243
18 Penn Manor 1 0 0 .664460
19 Red Land 2 1 0 .662616
20 West York Area 4 2 0 .652217
21 Dallastown Area 4 2 0 .645611
22 Waynesboro Area 6 2 0 .644596
23 Kennard Dale 4 2 0 .639213
24 Susquehannock 8 4 0 .609677
25 Hershey 6 2 0 .603305
26 Hempfield 5 1 0 .597413
27 Big Spring 2 2 0 .575994
28 Carlisle 1 1 0 .551375
29 Twin Valley 2 2 0 .546743
30 Conrad Weiser 5 4 0 .526604
31 Garden Spot 4 3 0 .523081
32 Dover Area 3 4 0 .509464
33 Reading 5 8 0 .492918
34 York Suburban 6 7 0 .487231
35 Shippensburg Area 1 2 0 .483555
36 Central Dauphin East 1 2 0 .470783
IMG_271737 J P McCaskey 1 1 0 .469942
38 East Pennsboro 4 6 0 .464713
39 Manheim Central 3 5 0 .458408
40 Cocalico 1 1 0 .457243
41 Donegal 1 2 0 .442313
42 West Perry 3 5 0 .442261
43 Elizabethtown Area 3 5 0 .439052
44 Oley Valley 4 4 0 .428007
45 Middletown Area 0 5 0 .377283

 

 District Three

 IMG_2659Class AA Power Rankings

AA School W L T Rating
1 Boiling Springs 4 0 0 .777428
2 Bermudian Springs 7 0 0 .757313
3 Delone Catholic 6 1 0 .710720
4 Northern Lebanon 7 1 0 .661615
5 Hanover 4 3 0 .654051
6 Newport 6 1 0 .640113
7 Bishop McDevitt 2 1 0 .632301
8 Hamburg Area 6 1 0 .615888
9 Littlestown 7 3 0 .592429
10 Annville Cleona 5 3 0 .580597
11 Camp Hill 4 3 0 .565990
12 Trinity 4 3 0 .563431
13 Biglerville 3 3 0 .543670
14 Brandywine Heights Area 4 3 0 .522978
15 Upper Dauphin Area 4 5 0 .479522
IMG_258416 Halifax Area 4 4 0 .478409
17 Schuylkill Valley 2 4 0 .397677
18 Eastern York 1 3 0 .390546
19 Columbia 1 5 0 .376578
20 Wyomissing Area 2 3 0 .363050
21 Susquenita 1 7 0 .289168
22 Lancaster Catholic 0 2 0 .284892
23 Pequea Valley 0 2 0 .284892
24 Fairfield 0 2 0 .272813
25 Kutztown Area 1 6 0 .271549
26 Tulpehocken 1 12 0 .229926

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