Southmoreland sophomore getting used to target on his back
TribLIVE Sports Videos
There really isn't a bull's-eye on Southmoreland sophomore Austin Griffiths' wrestling uniform, but when you're ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL and state in Class AA at 106 pounds, you are a target.
When you're a target, you expect to get your opponent's best. That's a challenge Griffiths welcomes.
With a record of 29-2 this season and 64-7 in his career, Griffiths begins a four-week journey Saturday at the Section 2-AA tournament at Charleroi — a trip he hopes ends atop the PIAA championship podium March 9 at the Giant Center in Hershey.
For the wrestling purist, this is the time of the season that counts.
Griffiths placed third at the PIAA and Southwest Regional tournaments a year ago and was the WPIAL runner-up, falling to Patrick DeWitt of Valley, 1-0.
But Griffiths has worked hard to get better. His previous strength was preventing opponents from scoring from the bottom position. Now he's scoring from that position.
“Austin is able to turn opponents from the top position,” first-year Southmoreland coach Ryan Shaw said. “Before, Austin kept things close. Now he's opening up his style, which I like.
“Last year, he was letting kids in the match with that head and arm move. Now he can tilt you or cradle you. You don't know where he's coming from. That's his biggest improvement.”
Griffiths has met tough competition this season. His losses were to Derry freshman George Phillippi, when he went up to 113 pounds, and Latrobe freshman Luke Pletcher, the state's top-ranked Class AAA wrestler at 106.
He's dominated the rest of his opponents, but Shaw said the loss to Pletcher was an eye opener.
“He's starting to do the extra little things top wrestlers do,” Shaw said. “He goes to different clubs or stays after practice to get an extra lift in. He knows he's the hunted in the Class AA bracket. He's got to do everything in his power to stay on top the podium. That's where he wants to be, and it was his goal was at the beginning of the season.”
His goals also include becoming the school's first state champion.
“It feels pretty good to be ranked No. 1 in the state,” Griffiths said. “I don't feel any pressure because I've been putting in the work. I've been working hard, and so much is pride.”
He said he learned plenty from the losses to Phillippi and Pletcher.
“I've had good matches and some bad ones,” Griffiths said. “I've been able to bounce back from my bad matches. My goals are to get to states and win. I know what to expect at states. I'm sure I'll have to meet some of the kids I beat last year.”
Griffiths said he's a better wrestler on his feet and on the bottom, but he knows to win matches he'll have to be able to escape. The two-time Junior Olympic state champion has received help from former Connellsville state champion Steven Bell, a volunteer assistant.
“I like putting yourself against someone else and getting a challenge from it,” Griffiths said. “It pushes you to your limits. It's fun.”
Shaw added: “The sky is the limit for Griffiths.”
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @pschofield_Trib.
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.
- Distracted Steelers show nothing in loss to Eagles
- NFL could delay punishment
- Steelers notebook: Keisel dresses, but doesn’t play
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- New Kensington slaying victims identified
- Will soft foes mean fast start to the season for Pitt football team?
- Pirates’ Axford overcame long odds to reach majors
- LaBar: Hulk Hogan wants to fight Brock Lesnar?
- Graduation leaves lots of holes to fill for Carmichaels
- Youngwood shelter removes 44 dogs, 9 cats from shuttered Fayette SPCA
- Google Maps opens business doors to online views for shoppers