Northern Lebanon bound for state finals
HERSHEY – Even after the wrestling was over, the drama was not.
Northern Lebanon had tied Bishop McDevitt 30-30 in the PIAA Class 2A team semifinals Friday night, so all the Vikings wrestlers could do was wait as the officials checked the tiebreaker criteria.
But their head coach, Rusty Wallace, already had it figured out. Though he waited until the officials said it out loud to raise an index finger to the Northern Lebanon crowd at Giant Center, he knew that his side had won on criteria D: most individual bouts won.
With the triumph over the Crusaders, Northern Lebanon became the first Lancaster-Lebanon League team to ever reach the state championship match. The Vikings (21-3), the third place team out of District 3, will face Reynolds, the District 10 champion, Saturday at 1 p.m. at Giant Center for all the marbles.
Northern Lebanon has beaten three district champions in row in the span of two days, downing District 9's Brookville Thursday and District 4's Southern Columbia earlier Friday before facing District 3 champ Bishop McDevitt (17-1). The Vikings are also the first third-place team from any district to reach the finals in the state tournament's 19-year history.
There were any number of bouts that could have ruined the Vikings' run to the finals. In the first bout of the semifinals, Zack Kelly was nearly taken down in overtime, but the official ruled that the grapplers were out of bounds before that occurred. Kelly came back for a take down to beat Jayden Johnson 3-1 with 23 seconds left in the extra period.
It seemed to be like that all night.
“We won a heavyweight match 1-0 by riding out the entire third period,” Wallace said, referring to Kyle Sonnen's win. “Kyle Anspach nearly gets teched in the first period [at 106] and then he loses as a major. You can probably find 10 different places where a point is the match.”
LuisNegreiros, who had won an overtime match earlier in the day against Southern Columbia, won an overtime match against Chris Mangle, 4-2 at 170.
Colin Leonard picked up the last points the Vikings needed at 120, getting a 12-8 decision over Tyler Martin after trailing in the first period.
“I usually come out a little slow,” Leonard said. “I don't like to, but once I starting scoring, I felt like I could beat him.”
Not only did that win put the Vikings up 30-21 with two bouts left, it was the eighth victory for Northern Lebanon, meaning they would win the tiebreaker.
So when Colin's cousin, Trevor Leonard, took the mat at 132 with a 30-27 lead, the Vikings could withstand a regular decision loss. Leonard was down 2-1 with 15 seconds left, and took Wallace's advice to play keep away and run out the clock.
A couple of pins helped Northern Lebanon get to the vital 30-point total. Blaise Bressler pinned Doug Reitz in 2:25 of the 152 bout, and Luke Funck pinned Dray Donley in 1:44 of the 195 bout.
Other wins for the Vikings included Ethan Herb's 6-2 win over Justin Piper at 160 and William Thompson's 16-10 win over Nick Fricchione at 182.