Southmoreland wrestlers earn narrow wins to qualify for PIAA quarterfinals
HERSHEY — Style points weren't something Southmoreland junior Austin Griffiths and sophomore Jake Beistel were looking for at the PIAA Class AA wrestling championships Thursday at Giant Center.
All they cared about were wins and moving on to the next round.
Both recorded one-point victories in the opening round and advanced to the quarterfinals, which begin at 9 a.m. Friday.
Griffiths (35-3) used a second-period escape to defeat Trinity sophomore Chase Drawbaugh, 1-0, at 113 pounds. He'll face Reynolds sophomore Seth Hogue (35-9) in the quarterfinals. Hogue won his match 5-2.
“I wasn't nervous,” said Griffiths, a two-time placewinner. “I'll take any win as long as I get to the next round.
“I felt I wrestled pretty well. I don't feel like I warmed up very well and I think if I eat better, maybe that will help too.”
Griffiths placed third at 106 in 2012 and fifth at 106 in 2013.
Southmoreland coach Ryan Shaw said Griffiths was really loose and talkative before his match.
“I've never seen him like that,” Shaw said.
Beistel (36-4), a sophomore from Southmoreland, had a tough time. He needed overtime to edge Reynolds sophomore Gene Ringer, 3-2, in an ultimate rideout. Beistel was able to keep Ringer from escaping in the fourth overtime period. He will face ELCO junior Wes Bankus (43-13).
They were among 18 wrestlers from the WPIAL to advance in Class AA.
The group includes two-time PIAA champion Jason Nolf of Kittanning and returning champion George Phillippi of Derry.
Relief can best describe the first- round win for Beistel.
Neither wrestler came close to getting a takedown, though Beistel said he should have.
The match was tied 2-2 heading into the final 30-second period. Beistel secured the win by keeping Ringer from escaping.
“I was confident I could hold him down,” Beistel said. “I've been working a lot on my top position. I knew I could hold him down if I needed to.
“(The win) was a big confidence boost. My nerves were really bad this morning, so I'm glad I got the jitters out of the way. I'm excited to come back Friday for the quarterfinals.”