Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace certainly thought if the flip had come his team's way Wednesday that the Vikings may have been walking out the winner in their first-round District Three Class AA Team Championships matchup against Schuylkill Valley. Instead, the Vikings, on the wrong side of the matchup spectrum, dropped the tilt, 49-21, to the Panthers at Boiling Springs High School.
"I really think we had a chance to win," said Wallace when asked what he thought the result would be had the flip gone his team's way. "We have the choice at (1)26, (1)52 and more up top. I think that gives us four more wins."
"That (the flip) was going to be an 18-point swing, and I knew that," continued Wallace. "We needed to win that toss and when we lost it, we knew we were going to have a couple tough matchups. So, I mean, we would've won four more matchups, I think, had we won the toss. It didn't work out and we wrestled the lineup that they wanted to (wrestle)."
Starting the night out at 113 pounds, the Panthers quickly staked out a 10-0 lead with Mason Shuman's 9-0 major decision over Isaac Young and Josh Giorgio's fall of Kody Kreiser in 2:47 at 120. At 126 pounds, the Vikings (16-5) had to show their hand first due to the flip and elected to go with Caleb Blatt instead of brother Quinn, allowing the Panthers to choose their matchup.
Schuylkill Valley (18-4), which later lost to top-seeded host Boiling Springs 51-18 in the semifinals, ultimately sent out the weaker of their 126- and 132-pound weigh-ins in Kyle Dimivitz, whom Blatt dispatched easily with a fall in 1:25 to make it 10-6. Meanwhile, brother Quinn had to go against Panther stud Tanner White at 132 pounds. White etched out a 12-5 decision to push the lead to 13-6 after four bouts.
Viking sophomore Joey Emborsky, fresh off a surprising L-L tournament run this past weekend, pulled his team to 13-9 after a 7-1 decision of Elijah Zimmerman. But the Vikings wouldn't get any closer the rest of the night.
At 145 pounds, Panther senior Zach Homan pinned Holden Ziegler right at the first-period buzzer to put SV up by 10 points.
The second key matchup in the toss came at 152 pounds when the Vikings sent out sophomore stud Evan Daub. The Panthers countered with the lesser of their two 152-pound weigh-ins in Luke Higgins. Daub easily bested Higgins with a fall in 2:40 on a cradle.
"They're two tough kids; they're experienced kids," Wallace said talking about Caleb Blatt and Daub.
At 160, the fifth-seeded Panthers again capitalized on the flip with Colby Geisinger pinning Craig Spitler in 3:50 to pop the lead back to 10 points. Moments later, that lead swelled to 16 points as Joey Waack pinned Ryan Kelliher in 1:53 to make it 31-15.
The Vikings would capitalize at 182 pounds as Tyler Sellers pinned Jake Bailey in 1:41 with a half-nelson to bring it back to within 10, with a must-win 195-matchup waiting in the wings. Unfortunately for the Vikings, that matchup didn't swing their way.
Instead it was a tough-to-swallow 1-0 Jonathan Tinsall victory over Derek DiAngelis after the officials determined, after the final third-period buzzer, that Tinsall had escaped.
"We hated to see it like that; it was 0-0," Wallace said of the outcome of that 195-pound match up. "I was frustrated to begin with because I thought the kid was stalling a little more than we got the calls for. It was 0-0 there at the end of the period, and he had the arm all the way around his waist and he didn't give him two points."
"Derek was wrestling under the impression that the kid didn't have any points because they didn't award it until the match was over," continued Wallace. "I think Derek was wrestling under the assumption he hadn't given up any points, and I would've done the same thing.
The Vikings then dropped the final three contests - a Dante Giorgio fall of Matt Vines in 1:45 at 220, a Trevor Crupi 4-0 decision of Anthony Deyo at 285, and a Jake Horst fall of Dustin Breidegan in 1:47 at 106.
The loss didn't put a damper on Wallace's recollection of the season; his team will now be better prepared moving forward.
"Our goal next year is here and better," Wallace said of his team's goals. "Now that they know what it's about and seeing some of these other teams, it lets them know they belong here and now we gotta work hard and get back here next year and win."