Vikings beat State Champs

It may have been the defending state champion on the other side of the mat, but as always, there were two possibilities for Northern Lebanon’s wrestling team: victory or defeat.

“We had two scenarios on paper,” Vikings coach Rusty Wallace said. “One we lost, one we won. I told the kids it would take a perfect match and a lot of team wrestling, but we absolutely could win.”

With a little strategy in the matchups and several wrestlers swinging bonus points in their favor, Northern Lebanon defeated Brookville 29-27 in the first round of the PIAA team wrestling tournament Thursday afternoon at Giant Center.

Up next for Northern Lebanon is District 4 champion Southern Columbia at noon Friday, back at Giant Center, in the quarterfinals. The Vikings will wrestle a second match as well, at 4 p.m. in the consolations with a loss or 8 p.m. in the semifinals with a win.

The Vikings (19-3) grabbed an 11-0 lead after three bouts against the District 9 champion, which allowed Wallace to use a little strategy for the 152-pound match. He put Ethan Walmer on the mat for his first varsity match of the year. Walmer was pinned by Caleb Hetrick in 1:29, but the value to the move was in who could then wrestle in the heavier weights.

AA brackets through quarterfinals:

Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 5.36.06 PM

“We won three of the next four,” Wallace said. “And Ethan [Herb] shaved some points, so that all worked out.”

The three wins, which put Northern Lebanon up 20-6, were a pin by Blaise Bressler against Clayton Peace at 160 in 1:31, a 3-1 decision by Luis Negeriros over Tyler Park at 170, and an 8-5 decision by Luke Funck over Xavier Molnar at 195.

But back to the points shaved by Herb at 182. Wrestling against a defending state placewinner, Noah Cielseki, Herb lost by decision, 6-2. The bonus points that were denied Brookville (21-2) proved crucial as the contest reached the final bouts.

“We picked up some bonus points and shaved some where we needed to,” Wallace said.

Holding a 29-14 lead with three bouts to go, Brandon Breidegan and Colin Leonard shaved more points to clinch the team win without winning their individual bouts. Breidegan lost 4-2 to Gabe Park, and Leonard lost 18-6 to Gavin Park. But that left the Vikings up 29-21 with one match left, allowing Wallace to forfeit the 126 match and leave Giant Center still in the winners’ bracket.

Northern Lebanon built an 11-0 lead with early wins by Trevor Leonard, Zack Kelly and Steve Herb. Leonard earned a major decision over Steven Sorbin 10-0 at 132. Kelly posted a second shutout for the Vikings with a 3-0 decision over Donte Constable at 138, and Herb added a 12-2 major at 145 over Jacob Cable.

“You just have to be willing to fight for every point,” Wallace said. “We did a good job today of doing that.”

Other winners for Northern Lebanon were Kyle Sonnen, who won 2-0 against Colby Whitehall at 285 on a reversal with 30 seconds left in the match, and Kyler Anspach, who won 11-5 at 106 over Parker Fleming.