Not to get all George R. R. Martin here, but, I’ve seen the future. It’s a Black Knight.
The future arrived at Manheim Township Saturday evening as Hempfield won the 26th edition of the Lancaster-Lebanon League wrestling championships, besting runner-up Garden Spot by 38.5 points, 224-186.5.
It’s Hempfield’s first L-L League team title since going back-to-back in 2004-05 and fifth overall.
To be totally correct, the future arrived Friday afternoon when all 14 Black Knights made weight, 13 of them advancing to Saturday and a guaranteed spot on the awards podium.
It was just a question of how many of which medals.
In the final calculation the Knights had two champions, Reagan Lefevre at 132 and Ian Edwards at 160, three third-place finishers, a fourth and a fifth, two sixths, three sevenths and an eighth.
“It’s starting to come,” Knights coach Shane Mack said. “We weren’t sure if we were quite there yet.
“The kids competed very well, probably had a lot of the best versions of themselves,” he said. “They were nice and fresh and they had their best performance.”
There were best performances too numerous to count over the weekend, beginning with Edwards, who stunned top-seeded Kole Marley of Penn Manor in the semifinals, pinning him.
Edwards then broke open a 3-3 bout with Donegal’s Mason Ober in the finals, scoring a third-period escape and takedown for a 6-4 win.
Lefevre, who majored Northern Lebanon No. 2 seed Brandon Breidegan in the semis, opened an 8-0 lead on Cocalico’s Grant Swann, nearly pinning him in the first period, then surrendered a pair of stalling points in the third for an 8-2 victory.
The day marked the elevation of Manheim Central’s Will Betancourt to the rare company of four-time league champions as he bested L-S’s Arik Harnish, 10-3.
Betancourt had five previous victories over Harnish — three tech falls and two falls, including for the 2018 113-pound L-L championship.
Betancourt opened a 10-1 lead after two periods before Harnish took top for the third, hoping to score off his deadly crossface cradle.
He turned Betancourt once, and had the cradle twice more, but could not score.
“I’m not happy with that match,” a subdued Betancourt said afterward. “Right off the whistle I was offensive, scored right away.
“If I would’ve kept doing that the whole match, it would’ve been a different story. Ten points isn’t enough for me.”
While Betancourt may not have been impressed with his performance, the coaches were, voting him the D. Kenneth Ober Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
Betancourt was one of six returning champions who repeated.
Solanco’s Dominic Flatt defended his 106-pound title with a 12-6 win over Manheim Township’s Josh Hillard.
Annville-Cleona’s Matt Inman needed extra time to defend his title at 113, scoring a takedown in overtime to top Lancaster Catholic’s Eric Howe, 5-3.
In the most heart-stopping, rock-em-sock-em bout of the finals, Ephrata’s Kayde Althouse, a returning champion, and Manheim Central’s Conner Zeamer, in his first finals, traded haymakers before Althouse emerged with a 14-8 victory.
Althouse, who pinned Zeamer three weeks ago, and split two matches in 2019, took Zeamer down to his back and held him there a long 1:06 to the first-period bell.
Zeamer returned the favor in the second period, defending Althouse’s inside trip try, elevating him and rolling him through to his back, holding him there for 38 seconds before Althouse slipped an arm through and reversed.
“It was a little bit of a scare,” Althouse said. “The biggest thing was keeping a level head.”
Up 7-5, they traded points — an Althouse 2-point nearfall, a Zeamer reversal — and, when Zeamer tried to turn Althouse, Althouse turned the tables reversing into a 5-point move to wrap the title.
Penn Manor’s Colt Barley defended his crown at 152, majoring Haydn Shreiner of Warwick, 11-0.
In a battle that was more sumo than greco, Garden Spot’s Dustin Swanson defended his 220-pound title, 4-3 in overtime, when Cedar Crest’s T.J. Moore was penalized for stalling.
Three of the final four matches were decided in OT as Penn Manor’s Nick Baker topped Will Small of Donegal 2-1 in the tiebreak.
Swanson’s practice partner, Charles Martin, won at 285, pancaking Brock Gingrich of Cocalico in 6:24 for his first title.
The outlier was Donegal’s Garrett Blake, up three weights after placing second at 160 in ‘19, who defeated Nick Yannutz of Solanco 3-2 at 195, finishing off an single-to-a-double takedown in he third period.
The future may have also arrived in the form of the next four-time champion as Lebanon freshman Griffin Gonzalez won at 120, defeating Jared Fulton of Solanco, 6-2.
It wasn’t a total loss for the Fulton family as big brother Ronnie won the 138-pound title, his first, 5-1 over Garden Spot’s Josh Groff.
Andrew Vogelbacher of McCaskey claimed his first league title with a 7-3 win over Manheim Township’s Cade Clancy at 170.