NAZARETH – Northern Lebanon made an hour-plus trip to Nazareth Middle School worth every minute and every mile by posting an 48-24 win over Wilson Area in the preliminary round of the PIAA Class 2A wrestling team tournament.
The Vikings (18-3), the third place team out of District 3, will face the District 9 champion and defending state champion Brookville at 4 p.m. Thursday at Giant Center in the Round of 16. Northern Lebanon is guaranteed at least two matches at Giant Center this week.
Entering the match, Wilson Area was the higher seed as the runner-up from District 11, but Northern Lebanon had the experience factor on its side. This was the Vikings' third straight appearance in states, while none of the Warrior wrestlers had been in team states before.
“Sometimes, that's a factor, having that experience,” Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace said. “But the first time we were there, we won three matches, so you don't know for sure. But it is still an advantage.”
In addition to being a critical win for the Vikings as a team, there was a memorable win for Luke Funck individually. At 182, Funck earned his 100th career pin with a fall in 34 seconds against Cayden Trimmer. It was also his 34th win over all this winter.
“That was a cool moment for him, as a senior,” Wallace said.
In the next bout, 195, Hunter Wallace clinched the match with a pin in 1:55 against Josh Roberti, putting Northern Lebanon up 42-17 with three bouts remaining.
“We knew that from 106 to 136, that was a strong spot for them,” Wallace said. “But we felt from 132 to 195, we could really get some wins.”
The Vikings cashed in one that stretch of middle weight classes, winning seven of those eight bouts.
In addition to Funck and Wallace's pins, Trevor Leonard, Zack Kelly and Blaise Bressler also earned falls.
Leonard pinned Ashtyn Berberena in 4:39 at 132, Kelly pinned Luke Fleck in 1:03 at 138, and Bressler pinned Lamont Singletary in 3:29 at 152.
Northern Lebanon also picked up some major decisions to build their commanding lead. Steve Herb posted a 10-2 major over Zavery Lesher at 145 and Ethan Herb posted another 10-2 victory over Jon Fischer at 160.
“Our wrestlers aren't looking at records, but as coaches you do for scouting purposes,” Wallace said. “Our kids with 10, 11 or 12 losses were majoring guys with just one or two loses.”
The Vikings didn't need the extra points, but still picked up a couple of wins where they probably weren't the favorites.
In the 285 match, which Wallace called a toss-up, Kyle Sonnen pinned Trevor Loebsack in 1:44.
In the 120 bout, included in the lower weights where Wallace said the Warriors (18-3) might have an edge, Colin Leonard earned a 13-4 major decision over Marckis Branford.