Southmoreland wrestler brings home national crown

| Monday, April 15, 2013, 12:11 a.m.

During his freshman wrestling season at Southmoreland, Jake Beistel racked up 34 wins and earned a trip to the PIAA Class AA championships. It was a fine season for the young wrestler, but it wasn't enough for Beistel.

After finishing his stellar first year on the mat with the Scotties, Beistel continued to train in preparation for the 24th annual National High School Coaches Association's national championships held April 3-7 in Virginia Beach. Beistel competed in the freshman division and squared off against some of the top ninth-graders in the country.

But Beistel did more than compete. He won the heavyweight bracket to claim a national title. Beistel went 4-0, which included two pins and a 4-3 decision over New York's Edwin Rubio in the title bout.

“I expected to do well, and I definitely wanted to place,” Beistel said. “I was nervous, but I was confident, and I had a pretty good tournament.”

Beistel didn't earn a medal at the state championships in March, but he acknowledged that the experience of competing at Giant Center in Hershey certainly helped him prepare for the national tournament.

“Before I wrestled, (Southmoreland coach Ryan Shaw) reminded me that I had already been on the biggest stage in Pennsylvania, and that helped me calm down a bit,” Beistel said.

Competing in the PIAA championships helped Beistel succeed at the NHSCA national championships, but winning a national title also could prove to be a big asset for Beistel when he returns to the mat for the Scotties during his sophomore season.

“It will definitely give me a big confidence boost going into next year,” Beistel said.

But Beistel isn't done wrestling this season. Beistel competes for the Young Guns, a tournament team based at Franklin Regional. He will compete with the Young Guns at a tournament in Virginia Beach next month before taking part in a tournament with the team at Disney World in June.

Beistel also plays center and middle linebacker for the Southmoreland football team and has been keeping up with his offseason workouts and weight training to gear up for next season.

But Beistel is more than just a wrestler and a football player. He also enjoys working with young children and has dedicated much of his time to raising funds for the Autistic Support Programs at Southmoreland Elementary School and the Southmoreland Primary Center.

During the high school wrestling season, Beistel had sponsors who contributed donations for each of his victories. His success on the mat allowed Beistel to raise more than $5,000, which will be used to purchase items for the kids involved in the Autistic Support Programs.

“I thought it would be a nice way to give back to the community, and I like working with little kids,” Beistel said.

Beistel noted that he enjoys working with young wrestlers in the district, and he became involved in the Autistic Support Programs after his younger brother, Caden, started working with a project that helps children with autism to function in social environments.

Beistel's dedication to his athletics as well as his worthy cause certainly don't go unnoticed.

“He is really what a coach looks for,” Shaw said. “Jake is a hard-nosed kid, and he wants to be successful. He does it all.”

Southmoreland athletic director Charles Swink had similar thoughts.

“He's the kind of kid that every coach, administrator and teacher would like to have,” Swink said. “He represents his family and his school very well, and he is just a good all-around kid.”

Beistel is proud to represent his school and community.

“It's great to know that I can represent the school,” Beistel said. “It means a lot for me to represent a great school like Southmoreland.”

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