Annville-Cleona s Phil Corle (bottom) tries to take down Elco s Nick Smith during their 126-pound bout on Wednesday night. Corle was ultimately successful,
Annville-Cleona s Phil Corle (bottom) tries to take down Elco s Nick Smith during their 126-pound bout on Wednesday night. Corle was ultimately successful, scoring a pin in 3:19 to help A-C to a 52-26 victory. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS ASHLEY WALTER)
ANNVILLE - After not beating Elco for over a decade, the Annville-Cleona wrestling team has now topped the rival Raiders in four of the last five years.

This year, it was by a 52-26 count in front of its home crowd in a match it needed to win to have a shot at qualifying for the District Three Class AA team tournament.

"We know them and they know us," said Annville-Cleona coach Mike Miller of the rivalry that resumed on Wednesday night. "It's a rivalry, but it's a friendly, respectful rivalry. We like to beat them. For a while Chad sorta had my number for the first few years. It's always nice to get a win over Elco. It is a rivalry, but it's a respectful rivalry."

The victory propels Annville-Cleona to 14-8 overall, and 4-2 in Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three, but more importantly keeps it alive for the District 3 AA team championships. A-C entered the contest .002 points behind the current eighth seed Upper Dauphin for the final district spot. Elco, meanwhile, fell to 13-9 overall and 1-5 in L-L Three.

"We look at it and talk about it, but we don't talk to the kids too much about it," said Mike Miller of the District Team Tournament. "It's a goal we set at the beginning of the year but we don't sit there and point watch...We mentioned it tonight, 'Hey now we did our part, we just got to sit back and let Upper Dauphin go'."

Phil Corle, Tanner Pyles, Dalton Himmelberger, Brandon Light, Kole Orfino, and Josh Renninger all pinned for the Little Dutchmen on the night to make a district spot at least a possibility.

After opening a 12-0 lead courtesy of an Orlando Bellaman forfeit victory at 120 - due to a recent injury to Elco's Nick Knight - and Corle recording his 99th win with a fall of Nick Smith in 3:19, Pyles was set to square off with Elco's Matt Achey.

Annville-Cleona s Brandon Light puts Elco s Cody Horst on his back on the way to a pinfall win at 182 pounds on Wednesday night. A-C won the overall match,
Annville-Cleona s Brandon Light puts Elco s Cody Horst on his back on the way to a pinfall win at 182 pounds on Wednesday night. A-C won the overall match, too, 52-26. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS ASHLEY WALTER)

Scoring a quick takedown, Pyles went right to work, turning Achey to his back with a deep half nelson. After a minute of battling, Pyles got the slap of the mat at 1:02 to put his team ahead 18-0.

"Tanner is a pinner, and usually when he wins, he pins," said Mike Miller of Pyles victory. "We bumped him up earlier in the year to 152 and he pinned Mauer from Columbia at 152, and Mauer's the one that pinned (Evan) Daub. Tanner is a pinner, and anything can happen."

After that, the hits kept coming for the Raiders as Alex Achey was pinned by Dalton Himmelberger with a half nelson at 1:22 at 138 and Little Dutchmen heavy-hitter Jeffrey Inman picked up a forfeit at 145, giving A-C a 30-0 lead.

"I can't be pleased, but we brought half a team," said Elco coach Chad Miller. "We've been kicking ourselves all year long in section matches...We've killed ourselves in every way possible in section matches we wrestled this season. Whether kids didn't make weight, we had kids suspended...Today we had three kids out of the lineup hurt with injuries, bad injuries that happened just over the weekend."

After the Raiders got on the board via a 6-0 Austin Rueppel decision over Luke Fies at 152 pounds, Elco's heavy-hitter Zach Bankus went to work at 160.

Opening an 8-0 cushion after one period courtesy of a takedown and a pair of 3-point near-fall situations, Bankus quickly dispatched Jon Zechman with a 15-0 technical fall at 3:49 to cut the deficit to 30-8.

At 170 pounds, trailing 7-2 to start the second period, Alex Centeno quickly escaped Justin Ulrich's grasp, then took him down into a fall at 3:49 to make it 30-14.

With his team's big lead quickly evaporating, A-C freshman Brandon Light stepped up at 182 against Cody Horst.

After a tightly-battled first period that featured just two points off a Light takedown, it seemed that this match would come down to who would make a mistake. Light wouldn't have any of that as he tallied nine points off near-fall situations in the period to make it 11-0 heading into the third.

Feeling confident, Light continued to take it to his opponent as he quickly took down Horst in the third period, then stuck him at 4:35 for the fall to put his team back on track, 36-14.

"He's getting better," said Mike Miller of his freshman 182-pounder. "He is a ninth-grader wrestling up. It's funny; he's a kid wrestling up with the men. 182-pound ninth graders, you don't see them very often. He's wrestling mostly seniors and older guys that have been through the rigor...He's a big strong kid and we had him up for football, but he's just getting better as the year has gone on."

195-pounder Kole Orfino quickly followed suit with a 2:54 fall over Ryan Bennetch to make it 42-14, officially clinching the victory for the Little Dutchmen.

Elco followed with back-to-back victories at 220 and 285-pounds as Chris Kreider pinned Austin Meyer in 1:27 and Wes Bankus received a forfeit. Then with the final outcome already determined Annville-Cleona finished it off with a Josh Renninger 19-second fall at 106 over Andrew Pasquale and Matt Darok's 12-2 decision over Randy Wintersohl at 113.

"I kidded with Chad earlier that it seemed like we kinda had the same team," said Mike Miller of the differences between them and Elco. "We had strength around the same spot and we were weak around the same spot and it would be determined by the non-superstar, swing matches."

"I was pleased with them," said Chad Miller of what he thought of his team's performance. "I wasn't disappointed with anyone's effort."