After back-to-back runner-up finishes in L-L League Section Two the past two years, Garden Spot's wrestling team entered this season on a mission.
Mission — pretty much — accomplished.
The Spartans (6-0 league, 7-0 overall) got on top early and never let up Wednesday night in New Holland, overpowering Manheim Central, 52-18.
With one match remaining on the league schedule — Elizabethtown (2-3, 5-10) — Garden Spot has met, and mastered, its closest rivals to set the stage for its first section title since 2014, and seventh overall.
“They worked for this,” said Spartans' coach Adam Bunting. “We talk a lot about you get what you earn. They earned this.”
The Barons (4-1, 6-6) came in missing three starters and nursing physical, as well as mental, wounds from a lost weekend at the Gettysburg Duals, where they went 1-4, including a 74-5 shellacking at the hands of the host Warriors.
One bright spot to emerge from that lost Saturday was Will Betancourt sweeping his five matches.
That tied him with 2008 state champion Jordan Enck for the most career victories at Manheim, 131, and set up taking over the top spot.
A mission he accomplished Wednesday night with a 36-second fall at 126 pounds.
Taking a forfeit in the opening match, at 138, as well as at 152, the Spartans were off and running.
Wrestling his best match in weeks, Drew Finkey (10-7) rolled up a 12-2 lead before getting the fall at 160.
“I definitely wanted to come out here and do my best, after a hard loss last week,” Finkey said.
“99 times out of 100 he wins that last match,” Bunting said. “We told him, you’re going to come up big in the next match.”
“Start strong, finish strong,” said Dustin Swanson, sharing his encouraging word for Finkey “He did that and got us a big win.”
As did Ethan Eberly (10-8), 6-3, in a tossup match with William Bemesderfer (5-12) at 170 and Alan Perez (10-6) with an overtime win, 7-5, over Maliki Rivera (7-9) at 182.
Perez got good position on a single leg shot in OT, lost the position, then gained it back, doggedly refusing to give up the leg before scoring the winning control.
“Some guys get comfortable, they think they have him,” Bunting said of Perez’s style. “He works out of it.”
Perez’s win put the Spartans up 24-3. An advantage that quickly turned 42-3 on falls from Mason Musser (195) Swanson (220) and Charles Martin (285).
Martin’s fall, with five bouts remaining, mathematically eliminated the Barons, who picked off a win here, a win there.
Conner Zeamer (15-7) got one of those wins taking an exciting, 6-5 match over Josh Groff (14-6) at 145, scoring the winning takedown with 47 seconds to go.
Connor Beck scored a fall at 113 for Manheim. Brandon Kheuangthirath got a decision at 120.
Northern Lebanon 44, Octorara 26
It was decision night in Section Three as well.
Northern Lebanon (5-0, 9-1) all but wrapped up its eighth consecutive section championship behind falls from Brandon Breidegan (138), Nick Winters (152), Ethan Walmer (170), Chase Bressler (182), Levi Arms (195) and Kalani Adams (220).
Owen Lehman scored a tech fall at 106 pounds for the Vikings.
Paul Orner (285) had the only fall for the Braves (3-2, 7-9), who added tech falls from Dylan Demsky (126) and Michael Trainor (145). Braeden Amole posted a major decision at 132.