Considering the Vikings had not beaten Elco for at least a decade, NL might have feared it was in for another beating. "Uni" never made an appearance, though.
The Viking grapplers ended a lengthy losing streak to Elco with a convincing 50-14 triumph in Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three action Tuesday night.
Northern Lebanon reeled off seven straight wins after Raider Austin Rueppell picked up a four-point major decision at the start weight of 145 pounds. NL's Evan Daub, Craig Spitler, Ryan Kelliher, Derek DiAngelis, Tyler Sellers, Matt Vines and Anthony Deyo all followed with consecutive victories for the visitors.
Trailing 35-4 after Deyo's 45-second pinfall at heavyweight, Elco scored three straight matches - albeit too little, too late. By the final horn, Northern Lebanon captured nine of the 13 matches, including five via pins.
"I don't know if I remember the last time we beat them," said NL boss Rusty Wallace. "After we shook hands (at the start) and I sat down in my chair, I just put faith in everything we do everyday. I told the guys there's not a team that works harder. Just do what you do and you will win."
NL improves to 6-1 overall and more importantly, 4-0 in Section Three. Elco falls to 10-4 and 1-2.
"I was young; I turn 41 (today). It's been a while; it might have been back in my 20s," Raider
Daub ignited the Vikes with his comeback against Zach Bankus at 152. Trailing 5-4 on the scoreboard midway through the second stanza, Daub remained undefeated (15-0) by dropping Bankus with a double-leg takedown and locked in a leg to get the pin at 3:04.
"I came in there thinking I was going to take it to him. He's one of the toughest kids, and he was very tough," said Daub. "That was the hardest double I ever shot in my life. ... I got that cradle locked in and wasn't letting go. I was making sure he was stuck on his back."
From there, Spitler racked up a 14-5 major decision on Alex Centeno at 160, Kelliher had his arm raised with a forfeit at 170, and DiAngelis downed Cody Horst 12-1 at 182.
"We won all the swing matches," added Wallace. "That score could have been a heck of a lot different if we lost some of those swing matches. Aside from the kids sitting on our bench, I don't think a person in this gym thought Evan was going to pin Bankus."
NL's Sellers kept the streak alive by overwhelming Ryan Bennetch at 195 in 45 seconds. Vines then took a tight 3-1
"I think the confidence comes from training," said Wallace. "Our kids really, truly believe that they train harder than anybody in the world. Our practices are brutal, so they are going to be in superior shape, and that gives them that extra confidence that they need.
Elco freshman Andrew Pasquale ended the run with a decision at 106, followed by victories from Chad Puglio (113) and Nick Knight (120). The Vikings finished the evening with a sweep of the final three matches.
The Blatt brothers, Caleb and Quinn, improved their combined record to 31-3 with wins at 126 and 132, respectively. Caleb (16-0) needed 47 seconds to dispose of Randy Wintersohl; Quinn (15-3) used 59 ticks to take out Nick Smith. Joey Emborski closed the night with a 10-8 overtime thriller against Matt Achey at 138.
"It hasn't happened since I've been here. It's a nice win, but our goal wasn't to beat Elco, it's to win a section title," summed up Wallace. "One match at a time, that's what we do. We take the next team we're wrestling, put 'em on the board, and that's the bull's-eye."
Northern Lebanon hosts Pequea Valley on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Raiders also return to the mat Thursday for "Youth Wrestling Night" in Myerstown against Lancaster Catholic at 7 p.m.
"I have no idea (if we ever beat Elco), personally," said Caleb Blatt. "It was just another match for me. We're looking at the section title. I want the section title. That's all I want."
"Groundhog Day" could crop up again in a few weeks should the two teams meet up Feb. 2 in the District Three Class AA Team Championships. The Vikings came into Tuesday's match ranked fifth, while the Raiders held the eighth and final qualifying spot.