Derry freshman captures WPIAL wrestling championship
TribLIVE Sports Videos
In the Derry wrestling practice room hang the singlets of the program's four PIAA champions.
Like many young Trojans, George Phillippi has glanced up at those clothing items in admiration.
His time to earn a spot on that wall remains a couple of weeks away. But the freshman 113-pounder added a bit more to his lore Saturday night at Chartiers Valley High School.
Phillippi became a WPIAL Class AA individual champion in his tournament debut as he edged South Fayette senior Seth Carr, 1-0, in the finals. His victory also earned him a favorite slot in the PIAA Southwest Regional tournament, which begins Friday at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown.
“I was nervous because I saw him wrestle all day,” said Phillippi, who scored the deciding point with 45 seconds left in the third period. “But I haven't been held down all year. Well, one time. … But I feel like bottom is my position.”
Phillippi, the No. 1 seed, pinned his way into the championship bout. But Carr, a returning WPIAL and regional place-winner, pushed Phillippi like few previous opponents.
The freshman actually expected Carr to receive the tournament's top seed.
“He's ranked high in the state, and he's a senior,” Phillippi said. “He's so explosive, so I thought he might score, and then I'd have to come back.”
Derry coach Mike Weinell applauded the freshman for his composure.
“We weren't sure what to expect because this is his first big-pressure tournament,” Weinell said. “That's probably the best I've seen him manage a match.”
Weinell's biggest critique of his burgeoning star: Phillippi needed to create more offense while on top, the position the coach considers the freshman's best.
“We'd like to see him get his legs in more, turn him and try to score some points,” Weinell said. “But he rode him out and got out, so he did the job.”
With an improvement here and there, Phillippi soon might have more in common with recent graduates and PIAA champions Travis Shaffer and Jimmy Gulibon.
“I want to end up like Jimmy and Trav,” Phillippi said. “I look up to them.”
Southmoreland freshman heavyweight Jacob Beistel came close to a golden debut, but a pinfall loss to Burrell's Al Beattie in the finals sent him home with silver.
Just before the match, Beistel noted the rarity of his situation, Southmoreland coach Ryan Shaw said.
“I think the moment struck him,” Shaw said. “I'm glad, because it's two weeks before the big one (the PIAA tournament), and he knows what this stage is like now.”
Another WPIAL tournament ended in heartbreak for Southmoreland sophomore 106-pounder Austin Griffiths. Able to beat Burgettstown's Austin McDermitt multiple times during the regular season, Griffiths lost in the finals, 9-1.
“He has had a target on his back all year, and it's tough to stay on top for every match,” Shaw said. “You're going to have a bad one now and then. The thing now is mentally, we have to get him back.”
Seven advanced to the regional tournament for Mt. Pleasant: Mike Novak (120), Austin Mears (145), Ethan Charlesworth (152), Austin Piper (170), Justin Overly (182), Eli Holt (182) and Josh Lind (220). Only South Fayette had more top-seven place-winners, with eight.
Others regional qualifiers included Yough's Cody Charles (113), Teddy Charletta (126), Gary Fallecker (170), Lucas Richardson (182) and Tom Sever (220), as well as Southmoreland wrestlers Evan Myers (120) and Dakota Datz (195).
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BWest_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.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.