Name: Austin McDermitt
Weight class: 106
McDermitt’s week: McDermitt capped an outstanding performance in the WPIAL Class AA Championships with a 9-1 decision over rival Austin Griffiths of Southmoreland.
McDermitt began the two-day event with a 19-2 technical fall over Cameron Anderson of Keystone Oaks, followed it with a pin of Hunter Neely of Bentworth in 1:12 in the quarterfinals and earned a spot in the finals with a 6-4 decision over Brendan Howard of Jefferson-Morgan.
Against Griffiths, McDermitt hit a five-point move that sealed the win, his 33rd in 37 bouts this season. McDermitt thought he had won the match on that move when the referee called a pin, but it came just moments after the buzzer sounded ending the period.
“They called the pin right after the buzzer,” McDermitt said. “I was so happy (to have the lead), it didn’t matter.”
Ending a long losing streak: If anyone appeared to have McDermitt’s number, it was Griffiths. The Southmoreland sophomore came into the WPIAL Championships with six consecutive wins over McDermitt.
Griffiths’ wins over McDermitt this season included a 5-2 decision in the finals of the Burgettstown Tournament in January and an 11-2 major decision in the finals of the Southmoreland Tournament in December.
Last season, Griffiths shut out McDermitt, 7-0, in a consolation round in the PIAA Class AA Championships; 4-2 in the third-place bout in the Southwest Region tournament in Johnstown; 3-0, in the WPIAL semifinals; and 4-2 in overtime in the finals of the Burgetsttown Tournament.
“I had to get in his head, and I think I did,” said McDermitt. “He’s good on top, but I’m better on my feet. We’ll probably see each other again. I’m just glad I got the win.”
Strategy works: McDermitt prepared with an intensive combination of workouts and film study. He normally arrived at school at 6 a.m. to get extra time in the workout room.
“All the matches have been close,” he said. “I’ve been watching film on him all week. I knew what I had to do.”
Burgettstown head coach Terry Havelka said the constant losing to Griffiths required some thinking outside the box to prepare for this match. The headlock was something Havelka and McDermitt thought they could use against Griffiths.
“We were getting to the point where we had to change the momentum,” Havelka said. “They’ll wrestle again, so this is a huge confidence builder. It can catapult him to the regional and state tournament. We just have to go after him.”
– Compiled by Joe Tuscano