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Southmoreland freshmen cousins achieve athletic success

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Paul Paterra I Independent-Observer
Cousins Jake (left) and Riley Beistel each qualified for the PIAA championship event in their respective sport as freshmen - Jake in wrestling, Riley in cross country.

Needless to say, it has been a very eventful sports year for the Beistel family.

After all, cousins Jake and Riley Beistel each qualified for the PIAA tournament in their respective sports — Riley in cross country and Jake in wrestling.

By the way, adding to the magnitude of those achievements is the fact they are each just freshman.

Jake won 35 matches this season, qualifying for the PIAA finals. His time in that tournament in Hershey did not last long with losses in his first two matches, but that didn't diminish what he was able to accomplish as a ninth-grade student. His first loss came by a 9-2 score to eventual state champion Sam Breese of Lakeview

“It's a lot tougher (at states). All the kids up there are really good,” Jake Beistel said. “I took a good shot, but I just couldn't finish. I can't wait to go back next year, hopefully. I'm excited to do a lot better next year. It was a really fun experience to be in the Giant Center, how big it is...I was real nervous my first match looking up and (seeing) the people looking down at me.”

Ryan Shaw, Southmoreland wrestling coach, said Breese came away impressed with Beistel.

“He said, ‘That kid's going to be tough,'” Shaw said. “He's doing a lot of little things right now that are going to make him a great heavyweight. I think he has a great future.”

For the most part, Beistel was happy with his freshman campaign on the mat.

“I think it went pretty well,” he said. “I definitely think I could have wrestled a lot better, but overall it went pretty well.”

Beistel's freshman year of athletic success was not limited to just the wrestling mat as he was named to the Class AA Keystone Conference All-Conference football team.

Riley Beistel ran to her success this year.

She finished eighth in the WPIAL Class AA championship to qualify for the PIAA meet during a season in which she placed in the top 10 of the Slippery Rock, Freedom and Uniontown invitationals. She also set the school's course record — one that stood for 15 years — with a time of 21:55.

“I was really excited about it,” she said of the course record. “I missed it by seven seconds one time and I was so disappointed since I was so close. I decided not to worry about it and that worked out better. I was more relaxed and that's the day it happened.”

She admitted the PIAA meet caught her a little by surprise, but can serve as motivation for next year.

“I didn't know what to expect when I went there,” she said about a meet in which she finished 124th out of 239 runners. “It's really crazy. I should have gone out faster and I didn't. I think next year I can do a lot better if I make it again.”

Each is quite proud of what the other was able to accomplish. The two admit to being close and very supportive of each other, sending encouraging messages regularly.

“We both worked really hard at it,” Jake Beistel said “I know she works really hard at it. My uncle owns a farm and she goes out and runs around the farm all the time. I'm really proud of her. It was great as a freshman she could make it to states.”

“I think it's really cool and unexpected,” Riley Beistel added. “I'm really happy for him. It's a great feeling. ”

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or