| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Wrestlers begin new season at sectionals

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Top high school sports

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 11:09 p.m.

The high school wrestling season is a grind, but after the team portion of the season ends, individuals have the opportunity to reset, start fresh and think about their own goals. For Class AA wrestlers, the process of reaching goals begins this weekend with the WPIAL sectional tournaments.

Wrestlers at Mt. Pleasant and Southmoreland will be competing in the Section 2-AA tournament at 10 a.m. Saturday at Charleroi. The championship bouts begin at 6 p.m. The top five wrestlers in each weight class will advance to WPIAL Class AA championships Feb. 22-23 at Chartiers Valley.

Mt. Pleasant coach Mike Long is eager for 12 of his wrestlers to begin action, especially after they turned in a solid season during the dual-meet portion of the schedule.

“We have a lot of seniors on this team,” Long said. “Their leadership and hard work made it possible to obtain an overall record of 11-4. Mt. Pleasant hasn't had a 10-plus win season since 2006. These seniors and veteran underclassmen should fair well at individual sectionals and WPIALs. How far into the individual tournament each wrestler will go will be based upon how hard they push themselves in practice. The ones who work the hardest will be the most successful.”

Three Mt. Pleasant wrestlers — freshman Mike Novak (31-9 at 120 pounds) and seniors Justin Overly (28-8 at 182) and Eli Holt (23-10 at 195) — are top seeds in the sectional brackets.

Other Vikings wrestlers competing are Jeremy Lawrence (freshman, 4-19 record, 106 pounds), Aldo Garcia (senior, 18-13, 132), Andy Yoder (senior, 15-14, 138), Austin Mears (sophomore, 25-14, 145), Ethan Charlesworth (sophomore, 19-6, 152), Evan Haines (senior, 13-8, 160), Austin Piper (senior, 14-15, 170), Josh Lind (freshman, 15-11, 220) and Jack Keslar (senior, 14-16, heavyweight).

Long said he hopes most of his wrestlers will advance to the WPIAL Class AA Championships. He also expects Mt. Pleasant to be well-represented at the PIAA Southwest Regionals on March 1-2 at the Cambria County War Memorial.

“I honestly believe we have a good chance of taking six to eight of the 12 to regionals,” Long said. “Once they make it that far, they should be peaking and be ready to perform well enough to go to states.”

The state championships will be March 7-9 at Giant Center in Hershey. But between now and then, plenty of work must be done, and Southmoreland first-year coach Ryan Shaw is looking forward to seeing his 10 competitors put their hard work on the line.

“It's going to be a test for us,” Shaw said. “It's a four-week grind, but this is what they have been working for.”

Southmoreland's wrestlers are Austin Griffiths (sophomore, 24-2, 106), Jake Virgin (freshman, 9-15, 113), Evan Myers (freshman, 12-10, 120), Jordan Beltz (sophomore, 7-14, 132), Austin Bixler (sophomore, 1-4, 138), Sean Suter (sophomore, 7-12, 152), Brennan Coles (sophomore, 5-15, 160), Shane Cavanaugh (senior, 5-10, 170), Dakota Datz (senior, 9-4, 195) and Jacob Beistel (freshman, 25-2, heavyweight).

Griffiths and Beistel are top seeds, but Shaw said he isn't necessarily focused on how his highest-ranked wrestlers perform.

“It's about all the guys advancing and we're hoping to send the majority to WPIALs,” Shaw said. “We know our top guys should advance, but I'm more concerned with the guys that maybe didn't have a great year. But right now, the guys are peaking.”

Shaw has reiterated to his wrestlers that, at this stage of the season, finishing first isn't necessarily the only goal.

“You just have to advance,” he said. “If you keep advancing, anything can happen.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Marte’s 2 fine defensive plays rescue Pirates in victory over Reds
  2. Rossi: Nothing huge, but Huntington helped Bucs
  3. Pirates trade for Dodgers 1B/OF Morse, Mariners LHP Happ
  4. Steelers OLB coach Porter teaches as passionately as he played
  5. Inside The Steelers: LB Williams dominates backs-on-backers drill at Latrobe Memorial Stadium
  6. Armstrong inmate escapee charged with murdering family matriarch
  7. 2014 showing has Steelers RB Harris confident he belongs
  8. Pirates place Burnett on 15-day disabled list
  9. Captured Armstrong jail escapee Crissman’s criminal history
  10. Heroin suspect out of Westmoreland County jail on $100K bond
  11. Proposed 8-story apartment complex called too tall in North Side’s Garden Theater area