2022 Donegal at Ephrata Wrestling

Noah Hinkle (left) of Donegal battles Noah Tlumach (right) of Ephrata in the 113 weight class during L-L League wrestling match action at Ephrata Middle School in Ephrata on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

Donegal coach Nick Evans called it a team effort. Ephrata coach Sean Lees didn’t disagree.

Up and down the lineup, the Indians did what was necessary to ensure a victory, 37-28 over the host Mountaineers on Tuesday night in a key Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two tussle.

The Tribe won seven of the 13 matches — two by forfeit— to improve to 3-0 in the league, 3-0 overall, scoring bonus points in four of the five wins on the mat.

“We won the ones we had to win,” Evans said.

The ever-improving Mounts (1-2, 3-5) matched that, scoring bonus in four of their six wins, but couldn’t offset the walkovers.

“We’re in matches now,” Lees said, “but unfortunately we’re still losing because of forfeits. It’s not five or six forfeits, but tonight it was two too many.”

The tone of the night, a night that saw seven lead changes and two ties, was set in the opening bout at 120 as the Tribe’s Mark Overlander (3-5) and Mountaineers’ Brady Thomas (43) matched point for point in a bout that was 2-2 after a period, 5-5 after two and 7-7 at the end of regulation, although Overlander’s winning takedown try ran out of clock at the buzzer.

A conundrum then carried over to OT as Overlander couldn’t complete takedowns, twice, at the edge. Thomas put the sudden in sudden victory, hitting a headlock with eight seconds remaining, scoring five points for a 12-7 win.

The Indians’ Jordell Jonas— making his season debut— and Ephrata’s Tristan Mellinger (6-2) traded falls at 126 and 132. Landen Baughman (6-5) got a major decision for Donegal at 138, while Tanner McCracken (6-1) missed a couple opportunities to improve pinning combination setups, settling for a 4-2 victory over Ruben Mumper (8-9).

Ephrata’s Austin Brass (80) and Donegal’s A.J. Small (8-7) traded falls at 152 and 160 before the Tribe’s Scott Garcia got in the win column, collecting a forfeit at 172 to give Donegal a 22-18 lead.

“Even if we had our ’72-pounder tonight, it might’ve been the same story,” Lees said. “He’s a ’60-pounder, and it’s one of those things.”

The lead was short-lived, as it turned out, as James Ellis (8-0) majored Silas Mumper (7-9), 16-2 at 189, just missing the tech fall with eight seconds left when his bear-hug takedown carried the wrestlers out of bounds.

Deric Hoover (4-3) trailed Owen Champ (11-6) 6-0 early in the third period before closing to 6-3 on a snap-and-spin takedown. Improving an armbar, he turned Champ to a fall with 28 seconds left, giving the Mounts life, and a 28-22 lead.

A fall at 285 by Nicholai Brotzman (14-3) pulled the Indians back into a tie and Nate Rothstein – new to the lineup after joining the team in mid-December – pushed the Mounts to the brink with a forfeit win at 106.

It was left for Noah Hinkle (12-3), the Tribe’s most accomplished wrestler, to close it out, which he did with a 5-0 victory over Noah Tlumach (4-4) at 113.

“We needed a little more out of a couple of kids,” Lees said. “We needed some falls and we didn’t get them.”

“(We) just keep grinding and gutting it out,” said Evans, “one match at a time.”

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