Northern Lebanon wrestles way to state tourney
The Vikings bounced back from Wednesday's district semifinal loss to Bermudian Springs to claim a state tournament berth on Saturday.
HERSHEY - Northern Lebanon was facing its first elimination match on Saturday morning when it faced Upper Dauphin in the District 3 Class 2A third-place wrestling match at Milton Hershey. But thanks to three quick pins to start the contest, there was no extra drama for the Vikings in a 47-18 victory over the Trojans.
With the victory, Northern Lebanon (17-3) will face the District 11 runner-up, Wilson Area, on Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Nazareth Middle School, in the preliminary round of the state tournament. That match will also be a must-win.
On Saturday, pins by Zack Kelly, Steve Herb and Blaise Bressler put the Vikings up 18-0 and made sure no one wrestler felt the weight of the season while they were on the mat.
"Jumping out to a lead early can help the mindset of the younger guys so they don't think they have to do too much,” Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace said. “They can just go out and wrestle.”
On Saturday, Northern Lebanon's Hunter Wallace hosted the first-ever GameTimePA.com wrestling Snapchat Takeover, and here's the full evidence. Video by Lizi Arbogast, GameTimePA.com
For Kelly and Herb, the wins were their 30th victories of the season. Kelly pinned Evan Hoffman at 5:34 in the 138 bout, and Herb pinned Darien West at 3:13 of the 145 bout.
In the last bout of the match, Trevor Leonard also won his 30th contest of the season with a 7-2 decision over Tyler Wright at 132.
Those individual numbers are impressive, but Wallace was glad that the Vikings had earned another week to continue focusing on team success and not the upcoming individual tournament.
“No one wants that gap in their schedule from now until sectionals,” Wallace said. “And I wanted to see the guys respond to Wednesday.”
Wednesday was when Northern Lebanon dropped a 34-32 decision to Bermudian Springs, which finished as the district runner up.
“We were going against a different kind of team with different matchups today,” Wallace said. “We obviously matched up better with Upper Dauphin.”
In addition to the winners mentioned above, Northern Lebanon had three other wrestlers with 30-plus wins this year add to their total against the Trojans (13-3).
Bressler's pin over Steven Heck at 3:28 of the 152 bout was his 35th win of the year. Luke Funck recorded the quickest pin of the match, in 28 seconds, over Mason Wiest at 182 for his 32nd victory. At 113, Kyler Anspach defeated Ethan Paul 10-5 for his 34th win.
The Vikings had two other pins. At 195, Maxx Emborsky was trailing 6-2 in the third period when he turned a quick reversal into a pin at the 4:27 mark against Ben Cope. At 285, Kyle Sonnen pinned Chase Witmer in 1:33.
But even in a lopsided victory, Wallace saw room for improvement as the Vikings prepare for states.
“There were a couple of matches that we lost close, that we didn't pick up the pace in the first two periods,” Wallace said. “You can't just wrestle the last 90 seconds.”
Wallace did not say which bouts he meant, but of the five weight classes the Vikings lost, three were by two or fewer points, and another was in overtime.