Southmoreland freshman Beistel continues to impress
As Southmoreland freshman Jacob Beistel learned Friday night at the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional championships, high-quality heavyweights tend to resemble grown men more than big boys.
Aiming to build off last week's WPIAL championship match appearance, Beistel fell a bit short as Tussey Mountain senior Mitchell Hall knocked him out of the winners' bracket in the quarterfinals. But all hope is not lost. Beistel rebounded in the consolation round and can still advance to the PIAA tournament with a top-five finish Saturday at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown.
“I think I could've wrestled better in the quarterfinals,” said Beistel, who lost midway through the third period to Hall, who weighs close to the class maximum of 285. “You have to wrestle more offensively with guys like him because if you let them hang around, they'll throw you eventually.”
Coach Ryan Shaw applauded his young heavyweight for the way he rebounded after the loss. Beistel won his consolation bout, 8-1. He needs one more victory to at least qualify for the fifth-place bout.
“That shows a lot of maturity to come back and do that at this stage,” Shaw said. “He's wrestling 18-year-old men, and he's still a boy.”
Shaw spoke just as highly of sophomore 106-pounder Austin Griffith's mettle. Griffiths, a WPIAL runner-up, returned to his winning ways and reached the semifinals for a second straight season. He'll wrestle No. 2 seed and District 6 champion Triston Law of Forest Hills at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“Griffiths came back mentally, and he had a battle in the quarterfinals,” said Shaw, referring to Griffiths' 3-2 win over Bedford's Jonathan Gabriel. “He gave up a couple points, and the old Austin might've crumbled right there, but he's getting much better at dealing with adversity.”
Freshman 120-pounder Evan Myers also remains in contention for a spot in the PIAA championships, which begin Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey. Myers lost his opening bout but recovered with a 12-4 major decision in the consolation match.
“He's wrestling as well as any of our guys right now,” Shaw said.
Three of four regional qualifiers made it through Day 1 for Southmoreland. Mt. Pleasant's six representatives did not enjoy such success.
All six of the Vikings made first-day exits from the tournament. Senior 182-pounder Justin Overly won his first-round bout but lost his next two matches. Sophomore 145-pounder Austin Mears also opened with a win and then dropped two in a row. The others found themselves in the first round of consolations.
The collective struggle left coach Mike Long at a loss for words.
“I just don't believe we wrestled well; we didn't show up,” Long said. “It's a long day, and we just weren't able to get it done.”