Frund, Beal focus on attaining PIAA bid
Seniors wrestlers Erik Frund and Jeff Beal have each experienced plenty of individual success for Southmoreland in recent seasons. However, neither Frund nor Beal has ever experienced a trip to the state championships.
That could change this week, as both wrestlers will compete at the PIAA Southwest AA Regional Tournament at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown.
The top five wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the state finals in Hershey on March 6-8, and Southmoreland coach Mike May believes that both Beal and Frund have what it takes to get to the ultimate level of competition in Pennsylvania high school wrestling.
"They've worked their butts off all year, and I told them they'll never do this again, so they might as well put everything into it," May said. "I think they can do it."
Frund (160 pounds) and Beal (171) made it to regionals by qualifying in last week's WPIAL Championships at Charleroi.
Frund won the consolation finals to earn the third seed in District 7. He did not qualify for regionals last year, but he has momentum on his side heading into this week's action.
"Erik wrestled really well, and I expected him to do well," May said. "He wrestled probably the best he has all season, and he's been practicing very well all week. Hopefully, he'll continue to do that, and he'll do well. If Erik wrestles like he did last week, he should go to states."
Frund (25-7) will begin the regional tournament with a bout against Portage Area freshman David Kephart (20-9). Kephart is the fourth seed from District 6.
Unlike Frund, Beal did wrestle at regionals last year, but he missed out on a chance to go to states.
This year, his road to Hershey won't be easy.
"Jeff has a tougher weight," May said. "But it speaks to his talent because he didn't wrestle his best (at the WPIAL Championships), and he still qualified. He has lost a lot of matches by one point, and I've just been trying to focus on one or two moves with him so that he can get a takedown. Jeff will have to pick it up, and he'll have to pull out at least two tough matches to make it to states, but I think he can do it."
Beal (28-8) is the WPIAL's fifth seed. He will begin the regional competition with a first-round bout against North Star's Aaron Delano (28-6). Delano is the second seed from District 5.
May won a state championship at Derry in 1999, and he knows that the key to success is staying in the moment and focusing on putting points on the board in each match.
"I'm trying to get them to focus on not winning or losing but just concentrating on scoring," May said. "I was an offensive wrestler, and I told them that you have to score to win. They can get overwhelmed by who they are wrestling but just taking it one point at a time can alleviate that pressure a little bit."