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Southmoreland's Griffiths hopes to break through in semifinals

| Saturday, March 1, 2014, 12:09 a.m.

For a third time in as many seasons, Southmoreland's Austin Griffiths advanced to the semifinals of the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional Championships on Friday at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown.

His past two semifinal appearances ended with heartbreaking losses.

The junior 113-pounder hopes this is the year he breaks through.

Two Southmoreland wrestlers are in the semifinals, as sophomore heavyweight Jake Beistel also advanced.

Semifinal-round bouts begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The top five wrestlers in each weight class qualify for the PIAA championships in Hershey.

“It'll be better if I win tomorrow, instead of like usual,” Griffiths said of his third visit to Johnstown, which included a 5-0 win in the first round and a 12-0 major decision in the quarterfinals. “(Coming up short) was tougher, probably freshman year. It doesn't bother me as much now.”

Griffiths joked about the memories — good and bad — made at the War Memorial.

“I've spent a lot of time here now,” he said.

“I'm starting to remember this arena. It's kind of scary. I'm walking around in the back, and I'm like, ‘Hey, this is where the Zamboni is.' And then I think to myself, ‘How did I know that?' ”

To make this Johnstown trip truly sweet, Griffiths acknowledged, would be a rematch with Burgettstown junior Austin McDermitt, who defeated Griffiths in the WPIAL finals last week and a season ago.

“I'd definitely like to wrestle him, and I'd definitely like to get some revenge,” said Griffiths, who beat McDermitt for third place in last year's regional tournament.

Beistel, who placed fifth in the region as a freshman, can earn another trip to Hershey with one more win in this tournament.

Sophomore 132-pounder Evan Myers' bid for a spot in the semifinals disappeared in dramatic fashion, as he lost in the ultimate rideout portion of overtime during his quarterfinal-round bout with Huntingdon senior Devon Green, the District 6 champion.

Myers, on top during the rideout, allowed a reversal with 2 seconds left in the 30-second period.

Myers lost his first consolation bout to exit the tournament. Sophomore 106-pounder Cole Lambie, who dropped a quarterfinal to a No. 1 seed, is still alive in the consolation bracket.

For Mt. Pleasant, junior 145-pounder Austin Mears remains in contention for third. Sophomore 220-pounder Josh Lind and junior 160-pounder Ethan Charlesworth both exited the tournament despite winning their first-round bouts.

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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