BY JEFF FALK
NEW HOLLAND – It was more than just some record-setting afternoon for the Lebanon County contingent at the 22nd annual Lancaster-Lebanon League Wrestling Championships. It was the best day ever.
Not only did the locale establish a new standard for weight class finalists – eight – the county also set a new mark for weight-class championships, with four. But it was a team from Northern Lebanon which stole the show.
On Saturday at Garden Spot High School, during the second and final day of the league tournament, the Vikings became the first Lebanon County squad in the history of the event to win the team title. And it really wasn’t close, as the Vikings piled up a whopping 237.5 team points, 55.5 more than runner-up Manheim Central, while Penn Manor’s 174 team points was third.
The Vikings also became the first Class AA school and the first Section Three team to win an overall L-L League championship. The Vikings did it by advancing five of its seven semifinalists to title bouts, winning three weight-class championships and by using its depth of talent to collect points in the wrestle-backs.
Vikings Trevor Leonard at 132, Luke Funck at 182 and Matt Vines at 220 all captured weight-class titles. Lebanon County’s fourth individual title was won by Elco Raider Ryan Rolon at 285 pounds.
“It is important. It’s probably a little more important than some of the things we’ve accomplished,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace. “It was a goal for us, but it’s not ‘the’ goal. For a Class AA and Section Three team to win it is pretty impressive. Section Three doesn’t always get the respect that we earn. There’s some tough kids in Section Three. I’m excited when Section Three teams do well. We want to win everything. It’s neat for our program. And it’s neat for our county.
“When the county’s better, we’re better,” continued Wallace. “We want people walking out of here saying, ‘There were a lot of Lebanon County kids in the finals’. It’s nice to raise some eyebrows.”
If Leonard’s 132-pound championship was the most impressive of the titles the Vikings won, then Vines’ at 220 was the most difficult that they earned.
Vines’ registered a 1-1 overtime ride-out triumph over Ben Fromm of Cocalico. Vines rode out Fromm twice in overtime, including in the seventh and final period.
Now 27-7 overall, Vines had forced ‘bonus wrestling’ with an escape with 1:10 left in regulation. Fromm assumed a 1-0 edge in the second period with an escape.
“It’s great for him,” said Wallace. “Matt’s only been wrestling a couple of years. It’s exciting for him. He has a really high ceiling. He’s peaking at the right time.
“Whenever you get a chance to do something that’s never been done before it’s important,” Wallace continued. “It’s a nice statement for our team. Everyone we brought scored points. But it’s more how you compete than how you finish. That’s what we look at more than anything.”
Leonard’s title was neat, tidy and precise.
He wasted little time taking down Garden Spot’s Gary Clark in their 132-pound championship bout. Ultimately Leonard parlayed that take-down into a fall at the 1:03 mark.
Leonard is now 32-4 on the campaign.
“He dominated,” said Wallace of Leonard’s third pin of the tournament. “He’s starting to peak right now. The last three or four weeks he’s really turned it on. He’s competing really well. His match strategy is really good.
“Our team is suited for both dual meets and tournaments,” Wallace added. “We don’t have a weight class where we don’t put out a pretty good kid. It’s just strength in numbers, and everyone contributing.”
Undefeated Funck’s 182-pound championship was an exercise in humility. The now 26-0 junior recorded a 6-2 decision over Jake Kelly of Lampeter-Strasburg in the finals.
Funck opened up a 2-0 lead thanks to a take-down in the middle of the opening period. He upped his advantage to 4-1, with a reversal near the end of the second stanza.
“Luke had a good tournament,” said Wallace. “He really hasn’t been pushed yet this year. He hasn’t wrestled too many six-minute matches. So it was good for him, conditioning-wise.
“We were talking last night, and I didn’t want to be that coach who came into the second day in first place and didn’t win it,” Wallace added. “Today was tremendous. Five of our seven semifinalists made it to the finals, and we won three championships. But in big tournaments, you win it in the consolations.”
Raider Rolon’s championship came on the heels of a 3-2 victory over Warwick’s Ryan Stewart, in the final bout at 285 pounds.
The difference in the match was the three-point near-fall Rolon worked early in the second period. That broke a scoreless tie, and Rolon protected it by wrestling well defensively.
Vikings Luis Negreiros and Dustin Breidegan made their ways to the championship bouts at 160 and 113 pounds, respectively. But both were forced to settle for second.
Breidegan was decked at the 4:38 mark by Devin Schnupp of Warwick, in the final at 113. After a period, Schnupp had enjoyed a 6-2 cushion.
Negreiros was pinned by Penn Manor’s Jonah Barley in the third period of their 160-pound title tilt. Through two periods of wrestling, Barley had built a 6-1 advantage.
“It’s not like we give a pep talk before leagues,” said Wallace. “It’s not the ultimate goal. This isn’t our end goal. We want to win a district title and we want to be at states on Day Three competing for a trophy. We’ll use it, and go from there.
“We don’t put lot of stock in regular-season stuff,” Wallace continued. “But it’s nice. It’s pretty neat. The whole team wrestled well. All the guys in wrestle-backs wrestled hard. As a whole, we’re battling, competing and getting good at the right time. I’m proud of how we battled.”
Meanwhile, Cedar Crest senior Barry Breidegan had his unbeaten season short-circuited in the championship match at 152 pounds, by Dan Swarr of Garden Spot. Swarr enjoyed leads of 2-0 in the first period and 4-1 in the second period, before working a pinning combination at the 3:56 mark.
Annville-Cleona 12th-grader Josh Renninger met a similar fate, after advancing to the finals at 138 pounds. Renninger fell behind Joey Davis of Solanco 5-3 in the opening stanza, on his way to an 8-3 setback.
Northern Lebanon’s Quinn Blatt finished third at 170 pounds, while teammate Zach Kelly copped the same colored hardware at 138.
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(at Garden Spot High School)
106 — Austin Jones (EPH) d. Nick Fafel (PM), 5-1
113 — Devin Schnupp (WW) p. Dustin Breidegan (NL), 4:38
120 — Brandon Loperfido (HEM) d. Jose Morales (CV), medical default
126 — Joe Lobeck (LC) d. Grayson Charles (SOL), 4-1
132 — Trevor Leonard (NL) p. Gary Clark (GS), 1:03
138 — Joey Davis (SOL) d. Josh Renninger (AC), 8-3
145 — Victor Kenderdine d. Wyatt Jennings (SOL), 8-5
152 — Dan Swarr (GS) p. Barry Breidegan (CC), 3:56
160 — Jonah Barley (PM) p. Luis Negrerios (NL), 5:26
170 — Jared Siegrist (MC) m.d. Jack Zimmerman (PM), 19-9
182 — Luke Funck (NL) d. Jake Kelly (LS), 6-2
195 — Jesse Kann (PM) p. Abdul Saad (COC), 5:06
220 — Matt Vines (NL) d. Ben Fromm (COC), 2-1 UTB
285 — Ryan Rolon (ELCO) d. Ryan Stewart (WW), 3-2
1: Northern Lebanon, 237.5
2: Manheim Central, 182
3: Penn Manor, 174
4: Solanco, 151.5
5: Cocalico, 146
6: Warwick, 118
7: J.P. McCaskey, 117
8: Garden Spot, 116
9: Conestoga Valley, 97
10: Annville-Cleona, 86
11: Ephrata, 83
12t: ELCO, 80
12t: Lampeter-Strasburg, 80
14: Manheim Township, 71
15: Pequea Valley, 66
16: Hempfield, 59.5
17: Elizabethtown, 45.5
18: Lebanon, 44
19: Lancaster Catholic, 38.5
20: Cedar Crest, 36
21: Columbia, 22
22: Donegal, 20