NEW HOLLAND - It’s all about the progression.
Having come close in recent seasons, the Northern Lebanon wrestling squad tore through the Lancaster-Lebanon League tournament match by mat Saturday afternoon at Garden Spot High School, taking the team title by a whopping 55.5 points over second-place finisher Manheim Central.
“Someone said they think this might be the first time that a AA school has won the league tournament, and the first time a Section Three team has ever won the tournament,” Vikings coach Rusty Wallace Jr. said.
“We try not to put a ton of stock in the regular season tournaments,” he added. “It’s just practice for the stuff at the end of the year. But in the back of your mind, it’s pretty neat whenever you do something that no one else has done before.”
Coming into the day with 11 wrestlers in line for medals, the Vikings garnered a trio of first-place finishes.
County rivals Annville-Cleona (86 points), Elco (76), Lebanon (44), and Cedar Crest (36) all held their own as well, each school having at least one fourth-place finisher or better.
Northern Lebanon’s first gold came at 132 when junior Trevor Leonard took just 1:03 to pin Garden Spot’s Gary Clark.
“We had only two guys we brought here who didn’t place, who wrestled tough anyway,” said junior Luke Funck, who grabbed some gold of his own at 182. “Everyone who made it to the second day made top-six, so I think we’re doing phenomenal as a team.”
A late, second-period reversal provided Funck two points of momentum in his bout versus Lampeter-Strasburg’s Jake Kelly, in what ended up a 6-2 decision.
“That was huge. That gave me two extra points, breathing room for the whole match,” Funck said.
The Vikings’ final gold came from senior Matt Vines at 220 in a match that went to ultimate tie-breaker. Vines rode out Cocalico’s Ben Fromm in a pair of 30-second overtimes to earn his grip on gold.
“To ride a guy out for 30 seconds, then to turn around and do it again, when they’re both tired …” Wallace said. “It’s great. As a senior (Vines) is still getting better every day. That’s exciting for him; he’s getting good at the right time.”
Elco senior Ryan Rolon followed up that performance with a first-place effort at 285, a 3-2 decision over Warwick’s Ryan Stewart.
“It means a lot,” said Rolon, who also had a gold medal at last year’s L-L track & field meet. “It means a lot to be a league champion in two sports. (Today) was a great accomplishment because last year I was in the 182 weight class and I didn’t even place.”
As Stewart attempted to escape in the second period, Rolon was able to score a three-point near-fall with some heady wrestling.
“I just knew that I wasn’t going to score many points because he already has so much weight on me,” Rolon said. “I saw he turned his back a little bit so I just kind of squeezed him to the mat hoping to get points.”
Falling in the finals were Northern Lebanon’s Dustin Breidegan (113) and Luis Negrerios (160), Cedar Crest’s Barry Breidegan (152), and Annville-Cleona’s Josh Renninger (138). Lebanon’s Jose Barrios settled for fourth place at 106 after falling to Cocalico’s Josiah Gehr in the bronze-medal bout.
While there were other strong finishes among county teammates, Rolon perhaps had the best perspective on what the L-L’s are ultimately about.
“It’s a great experience. I had a couple of teammates that ended up placing, too,” said Rolon. “It gave us some bonding time together.”
1.Northern Lebanon 237.5, 2.Manheim Central 182, 3.Penn Manor 174, 4.Solanco 151.5, 5.Cocalico 146, 6.Warwick 118, 7.McCaskey 117, 8.Garden Spot 116, 9.Conestoga Valley 97, 10.Annville-Cleona 86, 12.Elco 80, 18.Lebanon 44, 20.Cedar Crest 36
106 — Austin Jones (Eph) d Nick Fafel (PM), 5-1. 113 — Devin Schnupp (W) p Dustin Breidegan (NL), 4;38. 120 — Brandon Loperfido (H) injury default Jose Morales (CV). 126 — Joe Lobeck (LC) d Grayson Charles, 4-1. 132 — Trevor Leonard (NL) p Gary Clark (GS), 1:03. 138 — Joey Davis (S) d Josh Renninger (AC), 8-3. 145 — Victor Kenderdine (MT) d Wyatt Jennings (S) 8-5. 152 — Dan Swarr (GS) p Barry Breidegan, 3:56. 160 — Jonah Barley (PM) p Luis Negreiros (NL), 5:26 . 170 — Jared Siegrist (MC) md Jack Zimmerman (PM) 19-9. 182 — Luke Funck (NL) d Jake Kelly (LS), 6-2. 195 — Jesse Kann (PM) pAbdul Saad (C), 5:06. 220 —Matt VInes (NL) d Ben Fromm (C), 2-1, UTB. 285 — Ryan Rolon (E) d Ryan Stewart (W), 4-3.
Lebanon County Place-winners
106 — 4th, Jose Barrios (Leb); 5th, Kyler Anspach (NL); 113 — 2nd, Dustin Breidegan (NL); 7th, Alex Puglio (Elco); 120 — 4th, Colin Leonard (NL); 6th, Zach Renninger (AC); 126 — 8th, Shawn Price (Elco); 132 — 1st, Trevor Leonard (NL); 138 — 2nd, Josh Renninger (AC); 3rd, Zach Kelly (NL); 145 — 4th, Steve Herb (NL); 152 — 2nd, Barry Breidegan (CC); 6th, Blaise Bressler (NL); 160 — 2nd, Luis Negrerios (NL); 7th, Brayden Turner (AC); 170 — 3rd, Quinn Blatt (NL); 5th, Mark Wagner (AC); 182 — 1st, Luke Funck (NL); 195 — 7th, Jeremy Habowski (Elco); 220 — 1st, Matt Vines (NL); 6th, Brandon Light (AC); 8th, Tony Rodriguez (Elco); 285 — 1st, Ryan Rolon (Elco); 8th, Lucas Imm (Leb)