Southmoreland's Superman Beistel chasing Class AA wrestling title
Smack in the middle of Southmoreland sophomore heavyweight Jake Beistel's broad chest sat a Superman-style “S” Friday at Chartiers Valley High School during the first day of the WPIAL Class AA individual championships.
It's a fitting touch to his singlet, as Beistel believes he has recognized the kryptonite that doomed his bid for WPIAL gold and additional titles as a freshman.
Confident in the offensive abilities he has developed during his second season with the Scotties, Beistel trusts a more aggressive approach on the mat to lead him to the top of the WPIAL medal stand. The No. 2 seed in the 285-pound weight class, the sophomore improved to 31-2 Friday with a first-round pin in 17 seconds and a 7-2 win in the quarterfinals.
Beistel will wrestle Ellwood City's Adam Foreman in the semifinals, which begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
“I've just wanted to get on my offense a lot more and just try to ride people a lot more than I usually do,” said Beistel, who placed second in the WPIAL's heavyweight class last season. “Mostly I've worked a lot more on my feet, because if you're a heavyweight who scores takedowns in the first period, that helps a lot. I'm just being more aggressive, in general.
“I didn't do enough on my feet last year, and that's why I didn't have a good end to my season. I went 0-2 at states, so I really want to get back there and show that I can deal with the best.”
Beistel's ideal Saturday scenario will involve a rematch between him and Burrell junior Al Beattie, who won the WPIAL title last season by pinning Beistel in the third period. Beattie (35-5), the No. 1 seed, won his only match by pinfall Saturday.
The duo also clashed this season, as Beattie topped Beistel, 2-1 in the tiebreaker period of overtime, in the Westmoreland County Coaches' Association tournament semifinals.
“He's a great wrestler, and I look forward to trying to get back to the finals to wrestle him,” Beistel said. “He's great to go up against.”
The lively atmosphere of the WPIAL finals daunted Beistel a bit last season. But a bright spotlight no longer bothers him, particularly when he's channeling his inner Superman.
“I feel more powerful out there with the S on my chest,” he said. “I feel more calm than I did last year because I'm not walking into this for the first time.”
In addition to Beistel, three other Southmoreland grapplers reached the semifinals: sophomore Cole Lambie (106 pounds), junior Austin Griffiths (113) and sophomore Evan Myers (132).
Derry sophomore 126-pounder Stone Kepple (29-8) delivered another of the night's upsets when he pinned Carlynton senior Evan Ban, the No. 3 seed, in the quarterfinals.
“I don't think of anyone any differently than anyone else,” said Kepple, who will meet Valley senior Pat Dewitt (35-0) in the semifinals. “Not seeded or seeded first, I don't think anything differently at all.”
Kepple's classmate, 120-pounder George Phillippi (32-4), moved a step closer to his second WPIAL title, as he advanced to the semis with a 56-second pin in the quarterfinals.
Phillippi is one of eight returning champions poised to place atop the podium again. Kittanning senior 145-pounder Jason Nolf, a Penn State recruit, can become the 23rd wrestler in WPIAL history to win four championships with two more victories. South Fayette junior 160-pounder J.J. Walker can claim his third title. Burgettstown junior 113-pounder Austin McDermitt, Valley senior 126-pounder Patrick Dewitt, South Park sophomore 152-pounder Greg Bulsak, Avella senior 220-pounder Jake Temple and Beattie all are still in the hunt for title No. 2.