We're here to answer the annual question: Can anyone stop Northern Lebanon from winning the L-L League Section Three title?
And, as it has been the last seven seasons, the answer is no.
Rusty Wallace Jr. and company have built a program that repeats like bean soup wind. In a section where the majority struggle to field a full lineup, the Vikings have enough talent to put two varsity sides on the mat.
Perennial challengers Annville-Cleona and Elco have been joined by Octorara — in its second year of L-L League membership — in the pursuit of the Vikings, and will vie for berths in the District Three team postseason.
Below are capsule looks at each team in Section Three. Teams are listed alphabetically, not in order of predicted finish.
COACH — Jerome Simon, 6th year
LAST YEAR — 3-3 Section Three, 8-10 overall
KEY LOSSES — Hayden Funck, Caleb Turner. Sr. Steve Colledge, injured.
KEY RETURNING WRESTLERS — Sr. Matt Inman (34-16), Sr. Evan Heilman (17-18), Sr. Dan Tobias (16-14), Sr. Adriel Merjudio (10-17), Sr. Gavin Knox (5-5), Sr. Seth Jamison (5-5), Jr. Ethan Missimer (23-15), Jr. Noah Safford (15-16), Jr. Azriel Merjudio (10-16), Jr. Hunter Alcala, So. Wade Funck (6-4).
NOTABLE NEWCOMERS — So. Gavin Funck (14-8 JH).
OUTLOOK — In the race for second place, look for the Dutchmen to be a factor.
CO-COACH — Jordan Halter and Nate Warner, 2nd year
LAST YEAR — 0-6, 0-7
KEY LOSSES — none
KEY RETURNING WRESTLERS — Sr. Michaelangelo Stewart (16-8), Jr. Michael Alvarado-Cruz (11-16), Jr. Taylor Bernthiezel (1-2), Jr. Darnell Tucker (3-14), Jr. Jesse Tallarico (3-19), So. Derek Nell (4-21).
NOTABLE NEWCOMERS — none listed
OUTLOOK — One year removed from fielding one wrestler, the Crimson Tide is moving in the right direction, with a long way to go.
COACH — Chad Miller, 25th year
LAST YEAR — 4-2, 16-5
KEY LOSSES — Trey Donmoyer, Adam Firestine, Adam Kohler, Steve Wiczalkowski, Carson Nell.
KEY RETURNING WRESTLERS — Sr. Patrick Gibble (3-4), Sr. Michael Torres (2-1), Sr. Keegan Donmoyer (30-9), Sr. Hunter Hockley (26-10), Jr. Rochella Eschenmann (6-0), Jr. Dru Yoder (4-17), Jr. Danny O’Neill (7-13), Jr. Trenton Brubaker (30-15), Jr. Owen Kahl (17-16), Jr. Bailey Beamesderfer (22-21), Jr. Virdicio Chekanov (0-1), Jr. John Ball (3-2), So. Javier Zuck (15-19), So. Andrew Fields (3-2), So. Zachary Stump (5-5).
NOTABLE NEWCOMERS — Fr. Landen Brubaker
OUTLOOK — The Raiders will battle Annville-Cleona and Octorara for second and a spot in the Class 2A postseason.
COACH — Tom Blaszczyk, 21st year
LAST YEAR — 1-5, 6-16
KEY LOSSES — Sam Lobeck, Jake Hank. Sr. Jeff Harley injured.
KEY RETURNING WRESTLERS — Sr. Peter Mester (6-11), Sr. Evan Hart (17-15), Sr. Alex Vazquez (3-19), Jr. Robbie Reisinger (10-18), Jr. J.P. Jones, So. Eric Howe (32-9), So. Caden Droege (17-13), So. Mason McClair (25-14).
NOTABLE NEWCOMERS — So. Pierce Frailey, Fr. Griffin Stefanow, Fr. Mason Misel.
OUTLOOK — If there was one team that would benefit from going from 14 weights to 12 — which isn’t happening, if at all, before the 2021-22 season — it would be the Crusaders, who can put eight competitive wrestlers on the mat. For now, those eight will have to cover the handicap of six open weights.
COACH — Rusty Wallace, Jr., 13th year
LAST YEAR — 6-0 Section Three champion, 10-2
KEY LOSSES — Ethan Herb, Colin Leonard, Dustin Varvel, Seth Ebersole, Larson Stichler, Nick Goodyear
KEY RETURNING WRESTLERS — Sr. Brandon Breidegan (40-14), Sr. Nick Winters (33-16), Sr. Chase Bressler (6-4), Sr. Seth Fischer (24-16), Sr. Kai Whitman (17-17), Sr. Ethan Walmer (25-10), Sr. Devon Carroll (2-2), Sr. Josh Werni (2-2), Sr. Michael Spitler (2-2), Jr. Ben Bomberger (7-7), Jr. Tyler Boltz (2-2), Jr. Matt Tinto (2-2), Jr. Dominic Varvel (1-1), Jr. Levi Ditzler (1-1), Jr. Arthur Shirk (1-2), So. Kayden Clark (18-12), So. Owen Breidegan (21-17), So. Cooper Gill (17-13).
NOTABLE NEWCOMERS — So. Kalani Adams, So. Ethan Ebersole (22-8 JH), So. Tyler George. Fr. Conor Leonard (24-1 JH, E-town champion), Fr. Grady Stichler (25-6 JH), Fr. Dominic Fiore (22-6 JH), Fr. Cooper Geppert (16-9 JH), Fr. Owen Lehman.
OUTLOOK — Until someone proves otherwise, the Vikings are still the team to beat in Section Three.
This is as true in 2019 as it was when written in 2018. And 2017. And so on. Like death and taxes, the seven-time defending Section Three champion Vikings have carried an air of inevitability. This year will be no different.
COACH — Mark Durante
LAST YEAR — 5-1, 12-8
KEY LOSSES — Anthony Goines, Seth Hoopes, Troy Sharpless, Jarek Wasko, Gavin Camerote, Jacob Eckman
KEY RETURNING WRESTLERS — Sr. Ryan Nuckols (0-2), Sr. Gary Goins (2-6 in 2017-18), Sr. Lucas Thompson (5-8), Jr. Braeden Amole (42-13), Jr. Ryan Kernan (21-20), Jr. Tyler Thompson (2-2), Jr. Joe Ferrara (1-0), So. Mike Trainor (40-18), So. Tyler Walton (18-17), So. Paul Orner (26-20), So. Connor Jeffries (17-20), So. Hunter Focht (11-16).
NOTABLE NEWCOMERS — Sr. Mason Kiersznowski, Jr. Dylan Demsky, Fr. Liam Kernan, Fr. Trent Mourar, Fr. Ian Waldron, Fr. Connor Nuckols, Fr. Zion Raiaon-Peters, Fr. Mason Ellingsworth.
OUTLOOK — The Braves first foray into the L-L League wars proved positive, and there’s more to come. Especially when you look at all of those freshmen.
COACH — Rob King, 2nd year
LAST YEAR — 2-4, 7-10
KEY LOSSES — Gabe Miller, Dylan Jackson, Joey Coblentz
KEY RETURNING WRESTLERS — Sr. Mike Beals (5-19), Sr. Aiden Cook (18-10), Sr. Collin Bailey (3-5), Jr. Jace Beegle (27-14), Jr. Tyler Anderson (12-13), Jr. Dustin Huber (1-21), Jr. Conor Brown (3-16), Jr. Luke Brown (6-17), Jr Zack Donelan (3-18), So. Liam McGinley (15-16), So. Bobby Broomell (9-16).
NOTABLE NEWCOMERS — So. Gaige Hays
OUTLOOK — Like most of their section mates, the Braves’ progress is impeded by low numbers. Still, they will be competitive within their sphere.