Luke Funck has to forfeit, NL wrestling season ends
HERSHEY – A successful Northern Lebanon wrestling season came to an end in Friday morning's PIAA Class 2A session, and while all good seasons do end, the Vikings' finale was particularly tough to take.
Northern Lebanon entered day two of the state meet with four wrestlers still going - but the Vikings knew that one of them, Luke Funck, would not be able to compete.
Funck, who had injured his ankle in a first-round injury default loss on Thursday, had an x-ray overnight and discovered he had a fracture.
Along with Funck forfeiting his consolation match at 182, the other Vikings wrestlers were all eliminated in Friday's action.
But that Funck, a two-time District 3 and Southeast Regional champion, never got a chance to challenge for the gold was particularly frustrating.
“They're such a tight knit group,” Northern Lebanon coach Rusty Wallace said. “They were emotional when he got hurt. It's hard to see a guy you've been wrestling with since you were five years old get hurt. … And he wasn't happy just to be here. Had he finished second at this tournament, he would have been upset.”
Wallace said that Funck, who finished his career with over 160 wins and over 100 pins, knew the injury was serious late Thursday when he could put “zero weight” on his ankle.
So the Vikings looked to their other three remaining competitors Friday.
Zach Kelly provided the only victory for Northern Lebanon, beating D.J. Erickson of Hanover Area 3-0 in the second round of the 138 consolations. After a scoreless first period, Kelly scored his first point with an escape with 45 seconds left in the second period, then added a takedown with three seconds remaining. He rode out Erickson for the full two minutes of the third period for the win.
In the third round consolations, Kelly was pinned by Thayne Lawrence of Frazier in 4:01. Kelly trailed 3-1 at the time, having allowed an escape and takedown in the second period.
Trevor Leonard started the day in the 132 quarterfinals, and was hanging with Carrell Andrews of Bishop McCort with a 2-2 score after 30 seconds. But Andrews scored a takedown and three nearfall points to take a 7-2 lead after the first period. With an escape and a takedown, Andrews led 10-2 before ending the match with a pin at the 2:42 mark.
Leonard was then knocked out in the third round consolations in a 7-1 loss to Tyler Alberts of Ellwood. After a scoreless first period, Alberts scored a takedown in the middle of the second period, then added another takedown and three nearfall points in the third.
In the 120 second round consolations, Colin Leonard was eliminated with a 7-4 decision against Trent Bechtold of Burrell.
Leonard fell behind with seven seconds left in the first period when Bechtold scored a takedown. In the second period, Leonard was unable to get out from under Bechtold until two nearfall points had been scored, putting him down 4-0 before getting an escape with seconds left. In the third, Bechtold scored an escape and takedown to go up 7-1. In the last 30 seconds, Leonard had an escape and takedown, but not enough to time to get any back points.
“The thing you try to do at the end of something is reflect on the positives,” Wallace said. “Starting last week with the regional, with bringing six wrestlers here, that is a big positive.”
The other two Vikings wrestlers who were at states were Kyler Anspach at 106 and Hunter Wallace at 220. Both were eliminated in Thursday's action.
During the team tournament portion of the wrestling postseason, Northern Lebanon finished third in District 3 and second in the PIAA meet.
HIGGINS GOES 1-1: For the second straight day in the Class 3A portion of the PIAA Wrestling Championships, Palmyra's Leo Higgins won his first match and was defeated in his second.
That left him one victory shy of earning a medal. Higgins finished his fine career with a senior record of 27-7.
"I thought I wrestled very well this tournament," Higgins said, "but that wasn't my goal. My goal was to win a championship."
Higgins broke to an 8-0 lead over Kevin Edwards of Avon Grove in his first bout Friday, then finished him off for a pin in 3:48.
In his second consolation match, he was edged 2-1 by Elijah Jones of Boyertown. After a scoreless first period, Jones got an escape and then a point for a technical violation for a 2-0 lead. Higgins escaped in the third and got close twice to a go-ahead takedown, including one that was stopped for a potentially dangerous situation just before Higgins was turning in with control.
"I feel like the ref stopped that one a little too soon," Higgins said, "but it was my fault for putting us into that situation."
- Ed Gotwals contributed to this story.