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Southmoreland's Superman Beistel chasing Class AA wrestling title

| Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, 10:54 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Southmoreland's Jake Beistel, top, wrestles Keystone Oaks' Joe Kazalas in the 285-pound second round during the WPIAL Individual Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 at Chartiers Valley High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Derry's George Phillippi, top, attempts to pin Kittanning's Brody Trumbull in the 120-pound second round during the WPIAL Individual Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 at Chartiers Valley High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Derry Area's George Phillippi, top, attempts to pin Kittanning's Brody Trumbull in the 120-pound second round during the WPIAL Individual Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 at Chartiers Valley High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Yough's Lucas Richardson tries to escape South Fayette's Jack Previte in the 170-pound first round during the WPIAL Individual Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 at Chartiers Valley High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Yough's Clay Waldron lifts Burrell's Alex Moses in the 182-pound first round during the WPIAL Individual Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 at Chartiers Valley High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Yough's Lucas Richardson takes down South Fayette's Jack Previte in the 170-pound first round during the WPIAL Individual Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 at Chartiers Valley High School.

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.

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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