JOHNSTOWN - Derek Beitz just wanted to be like his big brothers.
The problem is, that was a mighty hill to climb - the older Beitzes combined for five state medals, including a championship.
No one could have predicted the youngest of the three would see his career end the way it did in the Southwest Class AA regional wrestling tournament Saturday - he was eliminated in a 1-0 decision.
His 160-pound consolation quarterfinal loss to Ryan Zalar of Jefferson-Morgan marked his second loss on a lone escape against a District 7 opponent - he wrestled both the champ and the runner-up of the powerhouse district.
As the lone representative of his team in the region, that means Juniata will not have a wrestler in the state championships this year.
Mount Union will - the Trojans' Sage Moist (120 pounds), after dropping a technical fall to returning state champ George Phillipi of Derry Area in the semifinals, moved quickly to score a 7-0 decision over Freedom Area's Kody Komara to advance into the third-place bout, guaranteeing a place in Hershey.
Moist scored first against Komara, the WPIAL runner-up, which he said made all the difference. That, he said, and a bit of work on top that drew the praise of Mount Union coach Corey Wertz.
"That first takedown was key and then I was just hanging on," Moist said. "My coach said, 'Man, you were a bear on top.' I said all along I wanted to get to Hershey."
But the day ended quickly, a 28-second pin at the hands of Penns Valley's Curtis Decker, a familiar foe who had never won a bout between the two.
"When I shot in he kind of propped me up in a whizzer," said Moist, who will advance as the fourth-place wrestler from the region. "We were both trying to throw each other at the same time."
The Trojans' Dylan Smith won his first consolation bout then dropped the second, a 2-1 tiebreaker against Nico Brown of Beth-Center, which put him in the fifth-place bout and a final chance at a state berth. That, too, went against the senior, whose career ended in a 6-3 loss to Bryce Fochtman of Berlin-Brothersvalley.
After falling Friday night, Beitz came into the second day needing to win two if he was going to make it to states. More important, starting in the consolation bracket, he had to win the first one to stay in contention.
So did Zalar, who after a scoreless first won the toss and took the bottom; he got free and got the escape point. Beitz made the same choice to start the third, but stayed on the bottom for two minutes.
"It's a little disappointing. I just wasn't capitalizing, I wasn't getting my offense going," Beitz said. "The third period I probably should have picked neutral to take him down, but I thought I could get out."
Beitz also was victim of a non-call that infuriated Juniata coach Mike Robinson. While on defense, Beitz rose to his feet and stayed there for close to 20 seconds; in most cases like that, stalling is called against the wrestler in control.
"I felt like I was moving him very well. I thought I was going to get a stalling call but didn't," Beitz said. "You can't depend on the refs to change your match - you shouldn't put it in the ref's hands."
"When you get to the regional tournament, you get very inconsistent officiating," Robinson said, referring to differences in the way calls are made. "The rule is, you have to return him to the mat within five seconds. As long as the attempt is being made they won't penalize you for stalling," a burden he felt Zalar failed to meet.
"Again, on top position, the individual rode a cross body ride, did not attempt to turn Derek at all - they left him ride," Robinson added. "They should have made him advance his position."
Beitz also was slowed by a handful of stoppages that he said benefited Zalar; the Jefferson-Morgan wrestler used injury time once for a wrapped shoulder and twice the bout was stopped for blood.
Robinson was seemingly more shell shocked than Beitz when it was over.
"I think Derek Beitz as a team leader has set the tempo for the younger group coming through," Robinson said. "(He's) probably been one of the hardest workers I ever had. Unfortunately he hasn't been able to reach all his goals."
Mount Union's Jake Boozel (126), the lone underclassman among the local contingent, fell to Central Cambria's Tom Opdenhoff in his consy opener, ending his season. The two met in the third-place match in District 6, which also went to Opdenhoff, a fellow sophomore.
The strangest ending for a season had to be that of Philip Kyle, the Trojans' 195-pounder. After dispatching Huntingdon's Mitchell Lauer in a consolation quarterfinal, he faced WPIAL runner-up Brad Grinnen of Ellwood City in the consy semis. Grinnen posted a strong lead after two periods when the official, apparently having lost track of the match, had the two shake hands and declared Grinnen the winner.
It might have been better for Kyle if it stayed that way. The two were brought back to center for the third, and it lasted 70 seconds, at which point Kyle - down 14-3 on the scoreboard - was disqualified for flagrant misconduct.
Because of that, he was not eligible to wrestle for fifth place and the final state berth, which went automatically to Tyrone's Jared Beckwith. Kyle wrestled Beckwith twice in season, losing both by fall.