Southmoreland gets 3 silver medals at WPIALs

Bill West
| Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, 10:18 p.m.

Black and red are the primary uniform colors for Southmoreland's wrestlers, but silver has become a familiar addition to the look for several Scotties — at least when they're on the WPIAL Class AA individual championships medal stand.

For a second consecutive season, multiple Southmoreland grapplers left Chartiers Valley, site of the WPIAL championships, with silver medals. Junior 113-pounder Austin Griffiths finished as a runner-up for a third year in a row. Sophomore 285-pounder Jake Beistel came one win short of a title for a second time in as many tries. And sophomore 132-pounder Evan Myers joined the club as a first-time finalist.

“They're like my motivation for WPIALs,” Myers, a No. 2 seed at 132, said of Griffiths and Beistel. “They gave me advice, but the people that gave me the most advice were my coaches.”

Griffiths and Beistel lost in rematches of last year's title bouts.

The junior 113-pounder's series against Burgettstown junior Austin McDermitt continued, with McDermitt winning 6-0 in their latest clash. Griffiths beat McDermitt three times in four meetings last season, but the Burgettstown junior prevailed 9-1 with the WPIAL title on the line.

Beistel, meanwhile, lost for a third time in his career to Burrell junior Al Beattie, who claimed Saturday's matchup 3-1 in overtime. Beattie used some nifty footwork to circle Beistel for a takedown after Beistel took a shot on his legs.

When the two heavyweights met in the WPIAL finals last season, Beattie won by pinfall, and he also won in overtime when they met in the semifinals of the Westmoreland County Coaches' Association tournament in January.

Despite a 9-2 loss to unbeaten South Fayette sophomore Mike Carr in the finals, Myers' performance in the tournament represented marked improvement from his freshman debut when he placed sixth at 120.

“I just worked on everything I was doing wrong during the offseason,” Myers said. “I feel like I wasn't taking good enough shots (last season), so I improved on that. And I didn't stand up as fast as I do now. ... I just need to protect myself more. (Carr) took me down too much.”

Not until Saturday evening did Myers even realize that he'd developed from a freshman who lost his first-round match at the WPIAL tournament to a sophomore who merited consideration as a title contender.

“It really didn't hit me until the finals,” he said. “It was nerve-racking. But it was enjoyable.”

Griffiths, Beistel, Myers and sophomore Cole Lambie (third at 106 pounds) advanced to the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament, which begins Friday at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown. The top seven finishers in each weight class qualified.

Mt. Pleasant also had four wrestlers make the cut for the regional round. Sophomore Mike Novak (126), junior Ethan Charlesworth (160) and sophomore Josh Lind (220) placed third, while junior 145-pounder Austin Mears took fourth.

“They are peaking at the right time,” Vikings coach Mike Long said. “This year we have the talent to send all of our place winners to Hershey. With continued hard work this week at practice, we should (have wrestlers) make it to states for the first time since the new coaching staff took over three years ago.”

The top five finishers in the regional tournament advance to the PIAA championships. Mt. Pleasant last had a PIAA qualifier in 2010.

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