Southmoreland junior avenges WPIAL finals loss to claim Class AA regional title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
JOHNSTOWN — During the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional wrestling championship's Parade of Champions Saturday evening, three WPIAL champs — Jefferson-Morgan's John Demaske, South Park's Jake Wentzel and Burrell's Al Beattie — stood among the 14 wrestlers lined up shoulder to shoulder on one side of the center mat inside Johnstown's Cambria County War Memorial.
On the other side of the mat, directly across from those three, were the respective WPIAL silver medalists — Valley's Pat Dewitt, Jefferson-Morgan's Jason Miller and Southmoreland's Jake Beistel.
Only Burgettstown's Austin McDermitt, the WPIAL 113-pound champ, and Southmoreland's Austin Griffiths, the 113 runner-up, broke the pattern.
That turned out to be a prophetic coincidence.
In four regional title bouts that pitted WPIAL finalists against one another for a second time in eight days, only Griffiths reversed the outcome, as he defeated McDermitt, 7-1, to avenge a 6-0 loss.
“I see him every year, about five times,” said Griffiths, who also lost to McDermitt in the WPIAL finals and then won a rematch in the regional tournament's third-place bout last year. “I think I just wrestled harder tonight. The last time, I kind of gave up takedowns I could've had, or I let him dictate what would happen.”
Demaske (126 pounds), Wentzel (138) and Beattie (285) all claimed Southwest titles, while Dewitt, Miller and Beistel placed second. Demaske won 4-2; Wentzel pinned; and Beattie won 3-0.
In the WPIAL finals last week, Demaske topped then-unbeaten Dewitt, 6-0.
“I pretty much controlled him last week, but I tore a muscle in my left shoulder or bicep or something, so I took off practice and lifting this whole week,” said Demaske, who improved to 40-0. “So I knew I'd be a little weaker, and I knew it'd be a closer match. I just wanted to do whatever I could to win.”
Wentzel also pinned Miller a week ago.
“We're probably around even on our feet, but top and bottom, that's where I'm best and where I feel most comfortable,” said Wentzel (36-1). “So on top, if the cradle is there, I'm going to take it.”
Beattie defeated Beistel, 3-1, in overtime.
“I knew the way he was going to wrestle me, so I wanted to capitalize where I could,” said Beattie (40-5), a second-time regional champ. “I don't get tired of wrestling anyone. … He's good, so I know I'll have to see him a couple times.”
Other finals showdowns served as rematches of earlier WPIAL postseason bouts.
South Fayette's Mike Carr (132) beat Burrell's J.R. Andrejcik, 5-0, one week after winning 3-1 in overtime in the WPIAL semifinals.
“After I wrestled him the first two times, I noticed he likes to go down to his knees, so I worked a lot on double-overs and head shots,” said Carr (40-0). “He changed his style up earlier, so this was my turn to change my style. Or we can just say that I added to my style.”
Also, Kittanning's Jason Nolf (145) became a four-time regional champ win a pinfall win over Burrell's Corey Falleroni, who also ended up on his back against Nolf in the Section 3-AA championships.
“It's pretty cool, because we both train at the Mat Factory (in Lower Burrell) together,” said Nolf (40-0), just the fifth wrestler in the tournament's 28-year history to claim four regional titles. “I don't think it's much different than wrestling anybody else. I treat it the same way. I talk to him, but not before the match.”
The WPIAL's only other unbeaten wrestler, Avella's Jake Temple (39-0), stayed perfect and defended his regional crown with a 3-2 ultimate-tiebreaker win over West Branch's Reynold Maines, who entered the finals with a 35-0 record.
Valley senior Terrell Fields (182) exacted revenge against one of his greatest foes, as he defeated Blairsville's Scott Thompson, 7-3, to claim his first regional title. Thompson, the defending champion, edged Fields, 9-4, in the semifinals last season, while Fields pinned Thompson in the quarterfinals in 2012.
Thompson also beat Fields in the Southmoreland Holiday Classic and the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament two seasons ago.
“Every time I beat kids that have beat me more than once, it's just a mindset change,” Fields said. “I flipped a switch, and I said he's not going to take what I've worked for so hard from me.”
The top five finishers in each weight class qualified for the PIAA tournament, which begins Thursday in Hershey. Fields' brother, Marcus Davenport (195), took third, Kittanning's Jacob Robb (220) also placed third, and Highlands' Nolan Wise (152) came fifth.
Burrell, led by champions Beattie and Steve Edwards (152), took first in the team standings to add to its season achievements, which already included a WPIAL team title and a third-place finish in the PIAA team tournament.
“I was talking to my coaches earlier, and I asked what the team record was for kids in the finals, and he told me four,” Edwards said. “I asked how many champs, and he said all four. So (two champs) was a bit of a bummer, but I mean, I'm proud and real happy with the way everyone wrestled, even the guys that didn't make it. I wouldn't say I'm surprised. When you see guys work this hard, you just want everything good to happen for them.”
One season ago, only a regional title eluded Derry's Micky Phillippi's grasp, as he won a WPIAL title, took third in the Southwest, and claimed gold in Hershey.
Phillippi (120) made sure to find the top of the podium at Johnstown this season.
“(Last year), I was happy I was moving on and going to states,” Phillippi said. “I let (the loss) go after it happened. But I'm way happier this year than last year.”
Derry classmate Stone Kepple will join Phillippi in Hershey after taking fourth at 126.
“He's an awesome kid and an awesome drilling partner,” Phillippi said. “I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up on the podium at states, because he's a tough kid.”
Also Hershey-bound are Yough's Tom Sever (220), who took fifth, and Jeannette's Gio Vonne Sanders (138), who placed fifth.
“It feels great to be a leader and start this back up (for Jeannette),” said Sanders, a freshman. “At the beginning of the year, it was my goal to get to states. I knew it'd take hard work. And I'm going there now. I'm rewriting my goals now.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers OLB coach Porter teaches as passionately as he played
- 2014 showing has Steelers RB Harris confident he belongs
- Snake bites on the rise in Western Pa.
- Rossi: Nothing huge, but Huntington helped Bucs
- 2 killed in single-vehicle crash in Pittsburgh
- Scout restores Brownsville paddleboat’s smokestacks to earn Eagle award
- St. Barnabas 5K provides various reasons to run
- Pirates trade for Dodgers 1B/OF Morse, Mariners LHP Happ
- Steelers training camp has California University link
- Marte’s 2 fine defensive plays rescue Pirates in victory over Reds
- Armstrong inmate escapee charged with murdering family matriarch