BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – You reap what you sow.
Months ago, the Northern Lebanon wrestling program planted the seeds of hard work, unity and commitment. Now the Vikings are about to harvest what appears to be a bumper crop.
On Wednesday night inside Northern Lebanon’s jam-packed gymnasium, the Vikings reaped two playoff triumphs during the first District Three Class AA team tournament pod ever hosted on Lebanon County soil. First, the second-seeded Vikings dissected seventh-seed Camp Hill 62-4 in the opening round, then they dismissed third-seeded Camp Hill in a similar 59-9 fashion, in the semifinals.
It would be hard to imagine a scenario where things could’ve gone much better for Northern Lebanon.
Of the 28 bouts contested over the two dual meets, the Vikings dropped exactly three of them. Along the way, Northern Lebanon logged a whopping 16 falls of one form or another.
The outcomes pushed the reigning Lancaster-Lebanon League and Section Three champion Vikings to 16-1 overall and into Saturday’s 10:30 a.m. District Three championship match at Milton Hershey School’s Spartan Center, opposite top-seeded Boiling Springs, which disposed of Annville-Cleona and Bermudian Springs in the pod it hosted. No Lebanon County school has ever captured a District Three team title.
Last year. Boiling Springs dusted Northern Lebanon 52-15 in the District Three Class AA title tilt.
“We’ve worked very hard for this,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace. “The guys wrestled a lot of tough kids this year, and it’s starting to pay off. I think this time of the year strength of schedule is going to show.
“I think our mental approach right now is really good,” Wallace continued. “The guys want it. The guys want to be successful. They just continue to accept it and work hard.”
Seven bouts into Northern Lebanon’s semifinal match-up with Hamburg, the Vikings were protecting a 23-9 lead, and the outcome was still very much in doubt. But Northern Lebanon captured the final seven bouts – five by pins – to settle the outcome with an exclamation point.
The fall that clinched it was Luis Negreiros’ 3:28 number at 160. Viking 145-pounder Zach Kelly and 152-pound teammate Stevie Herb had preceded Negreiros’ with first-period falls, and Matt Vines followed his with a 48-second pin at 220 pounds.
But the bout of the evening occurred at 195 pounds, where Northern Lebanon junior Luke Funck stayed unbeaten with a dramatic 9-5 overtime victory tough customer Iggy Reynoso. Funck completed his winning four-point move 25 seconds into the extra session, after Reynoso had enjoyed leads of 2-0 in the first period and 4-3 in the second.
“We’re getting there,” said Wallace, when asked if his squad had yet to peak. “Coach (Jim) Collins does a really nice job with our training schedule. We peaked around the holidays and now we’re peaking again. We’re getting close.
“We want to start getting there,” Wallace added. “We’ve gotten better over the last few weeks.”
Northern Lebanon opened the nightcap portion of the doubleheader with a 5-1 win from heavyweight George Thompson and an 8-4 triumph from Kyler Anspach at 106. The Vikings’ lead reached 18-0 after Dustin Breidegan registered a two-minute fall at 113 and Colon Leonard worked a pinning combination at the 2:50 mark at 120.
At 132 pounds, Trevor Leonard’s 17-1, 5:15 technical fall made it 23-6 Vikings.
“We’re always pretty confident,” said Wallace. “My coaching staff is always confident, and I’m pessimistic. But we were confident. We do a lot of work, so our kids are prepared to win.
“We’re blessed with some pretty awesome fans,” added Wallace. “We packed the gym, and our kids fed off of it. We get tons of support from our community.”
The Vikings jumped out to a 24-0 advantage against Camp Hill.
Vines and Thompson incite the crowd with pins. Anspach recorded a 15-6 decision at 106 and Breidegan scored a 7-2 win at 113. And Colin Leonard picked up an 18-3, 4:45 technical fall at 120.
“These matches were important, but not something we focus on,” said Wallace. “The guys knew if they wanted a chance to do what they want to do, they had to get it going.
“Yeah, there were things that could’ve gone better,” Wallace continued. “There were a couple of individual performance we weren’t super pleased with. In a match like this, you’ve got to have focus. You have to worry about small things. You never know when small things are going to come up.”
Northern Lebanon captured the final eight bouts against Camp Hill. What sealed the outcome was Blaise Bressler’s first-period fall at 145, after Trevor Leonard and Kelly had boosted the Vikings’ advantage to 34-4 with a pin at 132 and a 10-0 shutout at 138, respectively.
Funck and Hunter Wallace also logged falls for the Vikings, while teammates Quinn Blatt, Negreiors and Herb recorded decisions.
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Class AA Semifinal
Northern Lebanon 59, Hamburg 9
106 — Kyler Anspach (NL) dec. Shane Strausser 8-3.
113 — Dustin Breidegan (NL) fall Owen DeTurk, 2:00.
120 —Colin Leonard (NL) fall Lucas DeTurk, 2:15.
126 — Jake Johnson (H) fall Gavin Schaffer, 1:27.
132 — Trevor Leonard (NL) tf Mike Madara, 5:16, 17-1.
138 — Dylan Miller (H) dec. Zach Kelly 4-3.
145 — Blaise Bressler (NL) fall Brendan Hamilton, 1:45.
152 —Steve Herb (NL) fall Reese Mason, 1:05.
160 —Luis Negrerios (NL) fall Zach Scheffler, 3:29.
170 —Quinn Blatt (NL) fall Andrew Galarza, 1:24
182 —Hunter Wallace (NL) dec. Tyler Huber, 6-2.
195 —Luke Funck (NL) dec. Iggy Reynoso, 9-5, OT
220 —Matt Vines (NL) fall Max Kline, 0:48
285 — George Thompson (NL) dec. DJ Gromlich 5-1.
Northern Lebanon 62, Camp Hill 4
106 — Kylee Anspach (NL) maj dec. Ryan Foerster, 14-6.
113 —Dustin Breidegan (NL) dec. Jacob Congilio 7-2
120 — Colin Leonard (NL) maj dec. Noah Doss, 18-3
126 — Weston Kimble (CH) maj dec. Gavin Schaffer, 13-0.
132 — Trevor Leonard (NL) fall Gus LaTorre, 2:51.
138 —Zach Kelly (NL) maj dec. Anthony Rini, 10-0
145 — Blaise Bressler (NL) fall Chad Bezanilla, 1:35.
152 — Steve Herb (NL maj dec. Jon Shuster, 15-2.
160 — Luis Nergerios (NL) dec. Luca Colestock, 2-1.
170 —Quinn Blatt (NL) dec. Tita Nyambi, 7-0.
182 — Hunter Wallace (NL) fall Nate Teeter, 2:22.
195 — Luke Funck (NL) fall Sam Teeter, 4:51.
220 —Matt Vines (NL) fall Brandon Tomeo, 2:22.
285 — George Thompson (NL) fall Sean Eboch, 0:42.