Southmoreland, Mt. Pleasant wrestlers look forward to states
The Southmoreland and Mt. Pleasant wrestling teams experienced their share of success during the team portion of the season, and that success has carried over into the individual part as well.
On Thursday, four Vikings and three Scotties will take the mat at the PIAA Class AA Championships at Giant Center in Hershey. Class AA matches begin at 9 a.m.
For all of the athletes involved, the chance to compete on the state’s biggest wrestling stage is a reward for a season’s worth of hard work and desire.
“All of our kids have done the extra work, and these three have done the extra work longer,” Southmoreland coach Ryan Shaw said of his three state participants, freshman Tyler Griffiths and juniors Evan Myers and Jacob Beistel. “From Junior Olympics to junior high to high school, they have put in the extra time.”
Juniors Mike Novak and Josh Lind, as well as seniors Austin Mears and Ethan Charlesworth, will represent Mt. Pleasant at states. Mt. Pleasant, along with Jefferson-Morgan and South Fayette, are the only WPIAL schools to send four wrestlers to states.
“We’re definitely excited to get four to states,” Mt. Pleasant coach Zack Sheridan said. “We’re pretty happy, especially for the two seniors, and hopefully we’ll have returning state qualifiers next year. These four have been through so much in the program, and they’ve always worked hard. They’ve set the pace for us, and that is a common thread between them.”
The seven local wrestlers helped their respective teams to the WPIAL playoffs this year, but now the quest is for an individual medal.
Beistel (heavyweight, 35-4) is the WPIAL’s second seed, and he’ll open the tournament by taking on Troy senior Dylan Brennan (29-8). Beistel is the only wrestler among the local contingent with experience at the PIAA Championships. After not winning a match at states his freshman season, Beistel came home with a fifth-place medal as a sophomore.
Beistel knows the experience gives him an advantage, but he also understands that he can’t look too far ahead in his bracket.
“That happened last weekend (at WPIALs),” Beistel said, acknowledging that he may have looked past certain opponents as he anticipated a championship matchup with Burrell’s Al Beattie.
The match came to fruition, which Beattie won. Still, Beistel knows that not looking ahead is key.
“I have to wrestle one match at a time and just wrestle my match. I can’t wait,” he said. “I look forward to this trip more than anything. Since the beginning of season, I wanted to win a state championship, but there are some obstacles in my way.”
Griffiths (106, 39-7) and Myers (138, 37-9) are WPIAL third seeds. Griffiths will take on Fort LeBoeuf junior Abe Guariello (37-7), and Myers will tangle with Montoursville junior Keith Batkowski (35-3) in the first round.
“I think all three can walk away with medals,” Shaw said.
While the Scotties will be engaged in first-round matchups, all four Vikings will have to battle through a preliminary-round bout.
Charlesworth (152, 39-9) finished fourth at WPIALs, which is the highest finish among the Mt. Pleasant state qualifiers. He’ll square off against Littlestown senior Jordan Matthews (28-13).
“I’m just glad I get to end my career at states in Hershey,” Charlesworth said. “It’s awesome. Hopefully, I’ll place. My first goal was to get there, and my next goal is to place.”
Novak (126, 36-19) and Mears (145, 38-10) are fifth seeds from the WPIAL. Novak will open against Warrior Run senior Eric Hunt (27-7), and Mears (145, 38-10) will start out against Bloomsburg senior Cody Klinger (25-9). Lind (heavyweight, 32-17) is a sixth seed and will begin the tournament against North Schuylkill senior Nathan Gadinski (40-4).
“I think all the (preliminary) matches are winnable,” Sheridan said.
Jason Black is the localsports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at email@example.com.