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Southmoreland wrestlers mine silver at WPIALs

| Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, 9:36 p.m.
Southmoreland's Austin Griffiths (bottom) fights off a pin attempt by Burgettstown's Austin McDermitt during their 106-pound championship match during the WPIAL Class AA Individual Wrestling Championships on Feb. 23, 2013, at Chartiers Valley High School. McDermitt won by a 9-1 major decision and was named outstanding wrestler. (Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)
Penguins center Sidney Crosby celebrates with winger Beau Bennett after Bennett scored his first NHL goal against the Lightning in the second period Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, at Consol Energy Center. (Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review)

They bookended the finals of the WPIAL Class AA individual championships, but Southmoreland's Austin Griffiths and Jacob Beistel left Chartiers Valley High School on Saturday night as owners of stories about silver.

Griffiths, a sophomore, repeated as runner-up at 106 pounds. Beistel, a freshman, placed second at heavyweight in his WPIAL tournament debut. Both entered the event as No. 1 seeds and cruised to the finals, where No. 2 seeds managed upsets.

The lightweight lost, 9-1, to Burgettstown sophomore Austin McDermitt, an opponent Griffiths beat by three Jan. 18 and by nine Dec. 28 and also topped four times last season.

“He has a target on his back all year,” Southmoreland coach Ryan Shaw said. “It's tough to stay on top for every match. You're going to have a bad one now and then. The thing now is mentally, we have to get him back.”

Griffiths, who pinned his other two opponents, exited the tournament with a 28-3 record for the season.

Beistel lost by pin with 53 seconds left in the third period to Burrell sophomore Al Beattie. The freshman 285-pounder led, 1-0, through two periods but fell behind in the third before the abrupt ending.

Just before the match, Beistel noted the rarity of his situation — a freshman favored to win the heavyweight class — 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.”

Beistel, who pinned his quarterfinal- and semifinal-round opponents, dropped to 30-3 for the season after the finals.

Shaw remains upbeat about both wrestlers, who advanced to the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament, which begins Friday at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown. Freshman Evan Myers will join them after a sixth-place finish at 120, as will senior 195-pounder Dakota Datz, who placed seventh.

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.

Saturday somewhat muted the Vikings' excitement, as all five of the wrestlers who reached the semifinals lost in that round.

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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