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.

Five and oh, and two to go. That’s the situation where Donegal wrestling finds itself in the penultimate week of the Lancaster-Lebanon League season.

The Indians (5-0 league, 5-0 overall) sit alone atop Section Two, a match up on Cocalico (4-1, 6-2) and Elizabethtown (4-1, 5-2) — and owning a 46-24 victory over the Eagles. As luck, and the schedule, would have it, the Tribe will load the bus for the 8-mile journey up PA 230 Wednesday evening to accept the Bears’ challenge in this week’s Match of the Week.

The Indians come in paced by seniors Ruben Mumper and Noah Hinkle, both with 16-3 records, junior Sergio Garcia (18-3) and freshmen Leelan Baughman (16-4) and Brady Allessi (15-4).

Sophomore Francis Burke (14-0) carries the best record for the Bears, and speaking of best, senior Hayden Best (11-4), and senior Hayden Haver (9-6) who’s back after missing a year with a football injury, provide leadership for a baker’s-dozen-lineup that contains four freshmen and two sophs.

On paper, the Indians are favored in three bouts, the Bears in one, maybe two depending on whether the Tribe forfeits 107 or 114. The remaining bouts are tossups, which creates an interesting situation.

Depending on what weight class the dual meet begins — chosen by lot at weigh-ins — and who wins the toss for odd/even, there could be a hammer-and-tong battle to the bitter end. Or the winner could ride a tsunami of momentum to victory.

Daubert Gym, 7 p.m., be there!

Taking a wider view, Section Two, in the first division, is proving as competitive as thought even with the Indians’ unblemished record.

As part of that 5-0 the Tribe’s closest escape was a 33-30 victory over Ephrata. The Mountaineers two losses are by three to Donegal and one, 30-29, to Manheim Central. One of Manheim’s two losses is a three-point verdict to Cocalico, 34-31. Cocalico slid by Elizabethtown 36-32.

Among the top five teams in the section, the only matches that have not been close are Donegal’s 22-point win over Cocalico and Elizabethtown’s 23-point win over Manheim.

After Elizabethtown on Wednesday the Tribe closes out at Manheim next Wednesday. Cocalico hosts Ephrata on Wednesday this week. Elizabethtown hosts Ephrata next Wednesday.

Plenty of opportunities remain to create a real logjam.

Tough competition

It’s a testament to schools beefing up their schedules, seeking out the tough competition, or to the overall quality of the better wrestlers in the state. At the halfway point of the season there are just three unbeaten wrestlers — in a minimum of 10 matches — in the L-L League: Manheim Township senior 114-pounder Kaedyn Williams, 21-0; Columbia senior 152-pounder Stud Campbell, 14-0 and Elizabethtown sophomore 133-pounder Francis Burke, also 14-0.

Additionally, there are just two wrestlers with one loss entering the week: Northern Lebanon’s junior two-time PIAA Class 2A champion Aaron Seidel, 24-1 at 121 pounds, and McCaskey sophomore 139-pounder Avery Voglebacher, 14-1.

Not the only game in town

Not interested in Donegal-Elizabethtown? You have options.

If your interests lie in Section One, Conestoga Valley is at Manheim Township, and Penn Manor is at McCaskey, with the added bonus there of a pretty competitive girls match held prior to the varsity.

As mentioned, Ephrata is at Cocalico in a Section Two backyard burner and, north of the border, Northern Lebanon travels to Annville-Cleona in a battle for Lebanon County pride.

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