Southmoreland's Griffiths avenges loss, places 3rd in Southwest Regional
Southmoreland's sophomore lightweight regained his status as the better of the WPIAL's two star Austins on Saturday at the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional championships.
Matched up with Burgettstown's Austin McDermitt for the fourth time this season and the eighth time since the start of his freshman year, 106-pounder Austin Griffiths avenged his loss to the Blue Devil in the WPIAL finals with a 6-3 victory in the regional tournament's third-place match at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown.
Griffiths, who improved to 7-1 against McDermitt, secured his second regional bronze medal and advanced to the PIAA championships, which begin Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey.
“I think every match starts out even,” said Griffiths, who acknowledged he wanted a rematch. “He could come back and beat me the same way after I just beat him again. Everything has to be a new slate.”
Griffiths started the day in the semifinals, where he squared off with No. 2 seed and District 6 champion Triston Law of Forest Hills. A five-point move in the second period gave Law a 7-5 decision that dropped Griffiths to the consolation bracket.
“Austin, he got hit with a little bit of adversity,” coach Ryan Shaw said. “He got hit with a five-point move against Law, a guy he previously beat (7-0) this season. You get hit with a five-point move, and it's should've, could've, would've. We went out in the hall and regrouped, talked about getting back on track.”
An authoritative 17-0 technical fall over Chestnut Ridge's Aaron Burkett followed. The win set up the latest bout with McDermitt, who struggled to stop Griffiths' shots.
“I think he threw McDermitt off his game a little bit because for the past three days, all he worked was takedown, takedown, takedown,” Shaw said. “And in this tournament, Austin was the aggressor in every match he wrestled with takedowns, and when Austin gets a takedown, he's tough to beat, because nobody wants to be underneath him.
“You've got to be able to change right now, and that's the big thing that Griffiths did this week. He changed his style a little bit. He wasn't so predictable.”
Also headed to Hershey for Southmoreland is freshman heavyweight Jacob Beistel, who placed fifth with a 6-5 decision over Moshannon Valley's Jack Brunnell, an opponent Beistel also defeated with a pin in the tournament's opening round.
Beistel began Saturday in the consolation bracket and won his first match, 8-2, over Hope For Hyndman Charter School's Dylan Emerick. He then came just short of securing a spot in the third-place bout, as he lost to Chestnut Ridge's Austin Buttry, 2-1, in the tiebreaker portion of overtime.
“He really was upset with himself because he knew he left a golden opportunity out there on the mat and that he really didn't wrestle his best,” Shaw said.
As he did with Griffiths, Shaw spoke with his young heavyweight about the importance of focusing on the future rather than pitying the past. Beistel absorbed the advice.
“He's going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Shaw said.
“Our future is bright with those two young guys and freshman (120-pounder) Evan Myers, who was a match away from giving himself an opportunity (to make states).”