Three years and three matches was what it took junior 132 pound competitor Tyler Griffiths to reach the final match of the PIAA wrestling tournament in Hershey on March 11. Griffiths faced Brian Courtney in state finals, but was pinned giving him the title of state runner up.
“My goal was to win just like any other wrestler in that arena,”said Griffiths. “My opponent just had an edge on me and used it to his advantage.”
Griffiths powered through the tournament securing win after win, even in some nail biting matches.
“My hardest opponents were Gabe Miller in semifinals and obviously Brian Courtney,” said Griffiths.”The other matches I had weren’t hard, but they weren’t easy, either.”
In previous years of state tournaments, Griffiths placed eighth his freshmen year, but returned to Hershey his sophomore year and didn’t make it to the podium.
“Looking back at those other years and comparing them to this year, I wasn’t as nervous and I made sure to wrestle to my full potential,”said Griffiths. “Even though it’s my junior year, I made sure to wrestle with no regrets and to leave it all out on the mat.”
In previous years, Griffiths had former heavyweight competitor Jake Beistel by his side keeping him collected as he came and went on and off the mats.
“Not having Jake there was different because it’s something I was so used to,”said Griffiths. “I knew he was still watching and cheering me on from back home, though.”
The former state champion had encouraging words for Griffiths as he now prepares for his senior year of wrestling.
“I think I wanted Tyler to win more than I wanted for myself to win last year,” said Beistel.” He’s a tough wrestler and needs to believe in himself like the rest of us do. He just needs to enjoy it and leave it all out on the mat because it goes so fast.”
Next year, Griffiths looks to return for the fourth time to secure the state gold for him and a second time for Southmoreland.
“I’m going to work harder in this offseason,”said Griffiths. “I’ll come back next year and make my way match by match to the podium again. But this time I’m determined to bring home state gold.”