Elizabethtown vs. Donegal - L-L League wrestling

Elizabethtown’s Bradley Candy pins Donegal’s Dan Viselli in their 215 pound bout during an L-L League section two wrestling match at Donegal High School Wednesday Jan. 18, 2023.

For most of the season Donegal has been able to fashion a solution to the 18-point handicap given to opposing teams. Forfeiting three of the first four weight classes at the light end of the lineup, the Indians have countered with a strong middle section and balanced upperweight finish.

Wednesday, visiting Elizabethtown won four of the six bouts between 145 and 215, scoring bonus in three of the four victories, and won the Route 230 backyard brawl, 37-25.

The win moved the Bears (5-1 league, 9-3 overall) one step closer to locking down a berth in the District Three Class 3A Team Tournament, which begins in just under two weeks. Donegal (4-2, 6-4), dropped out of the top 16 for now, all the way to No. 24 in the power ranking.

“We knew that we had to have seven of the 10 (contested bouts),” Indians coach Nick Evans said, “and we didn’t get our goal.”

Credit the Bears upperweights, specifically seniors Collin Huggins and Bradley Candy. Their falls at 189 and 215 respectively clinched the victory for the Bears, despite there being six matches still to go. Those pesky three forfeits being three of the six.

Huggins, who only came out for wrestling halfway through the season last year, came into Wednesday evening with a 5-9 record.

“He’s better than what his record shows,” Bears coach Mike Sernoffsky said.

Which he proved, matched against Indians senior Scott Garcia (9-12). Huggins fell behind on an early takedown, barely avoiding giving up points on a half-and-wrist as the period expired.

He pulled even with a reversal late in the second period and, after Garcia elected to wrestle from neutral to start the third period, took Garcia down to his back and the fall, his fourth of the year.

Without a natural 285-pounder, the Bears have been mixing and matching at 215 and 285 with Candy (11-6) and junior Ryan Hottenstein (3-7).

Most times Candy got the call at heavyweight, but with Donegal sure to send out rugged Nicholai Brotzman, the Bears matched Candy on sophomore Dan Viselli (6-9) at 215. Candy was dandy, taking Viselli down, locking him up with a corkscrew and locking up the victory in 72 seconds.

Brotzman (21-2) pinned Hottenstein, one of six individual wins for the hosts who fell just short of their goal.

“It didn’t work out, but we’re going to keep on fighting,” Evans said.

With the evening beginning at 139, the teams traded blows. Donegal’s Landon Keller (19-7) hit a five-point takedown in the second period to top Kai Laszakovits (12-8), 5-1 at 139.

In what may have been the key match of the night, in retrospect, the Bears Nathan Thomas (16-5) rode a pair of second-period five-point takedowns to a 12-9 victory over Landen Baughman (12-11) at 145.

The first, a nice lateral drop, erased a 5-0 Baughman advantage. Down 10-7 after two periods, Baughman battled back to 10-9 and had a shot at the winning takedown but couldn’t complete a shot at the edge with 12 seconds left. Thomas slipped another Baughman shot with five seconds left to ice the win.

Ruben Mumper (13-4) stopped Ryan Findlay (16-5), 7-1 at 152 to give the Tribe a 6-3 lead and the teams traded major decisions in the next two bouts, Aiden Robinson (16-4) 9-1 over Caidyn Leaf (11-10) at 160 and Sergio Garcia (15-11) 14-3 over Devin Forney (2-6) at 172.

Dropping down to 121, the Tribe’s Noah Hinkel (14-9) gutted out a 2-0 decision over Francis Burke (15-6) on a second-period reversal.

Mark Overlander (14-9) ran a bar-and-wrist to flatten Dakota Petrosky (4-8) in the final bout of the evening at 133. 

“They were grittier tonight,” Sernoffsky said, with a nod toward Donegal. “It’s always nice to win.”

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