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THE FAMILY BUSINESS: Keystone’s Josh Beal, Latest Wrestler in Household, Finds Success on the Mat With Clarion Area at Heavyweight

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Pinned to the left inside pocket of Josh Beal’s Keystone letterman’s jacket is an orange and black C.

It’s the first varsity letter he ever earned in athletics.

And, ironically, it came from another school.

Keystone no longer has a wrestling program. Clarion does and Beal, a junior heavyweight for the Bobcats, is proud of that C, even though it’s of rival colors.

“When I go down to the weight room, when I’m wearing my letterman’s jacket, I pop it open and show it,” Beal said.

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Beal, who is also a standout offensive and defensive lineman for the Keystone football team, wasn’t sure if he even wanted to wrestle beyond elementary school.

But if you’re a Beal, you wrestle.

Beal’s father, Jon, did at a very high level while growing up in Kansas, going to that state’s championships all four years he was in high school. Josh Beal’s older brother, Tyler, won 101 matches at Keystone from 2012-13 to 2015-16, making a trip to the PIAA championships at heavyweight as a junior and winning the District 9 crown the next year as a senior.

Beal felt compelled, as he said, to “enter the family business.”

“It was a family tradition,” Josh Beal said. “Ninth grade was the COVID year, and I had only a total of six matches on the varsity level. I think that kind of flipped the switch for me. I started realizing wrestling wasn’t a sport, but a lifestyle. That’s what ramped me up going into the 10th grade.”

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Wrestling at another school also took some adjustment time.

“In the beginning, I didn’t really know how I felt about it, going from gold and black to orange and black,” he said. “It’s different to walk into a school full of people you don’t know, except for those 15 guys. But you can go out on the mat with them and have a great day. It’s mind blowing.”

Beal had his fair share of great days and nights last season as a sophomore, posting a 21-10 record at heavyweight with eight pins.

But he fell short of his goals at the District 9 championships, placing sixth.

That has only served to motivate him even more this campaign.

“I’m definitely open to come back at some of the people who I’ve lost to a few times,” Beal said. “Granted, some of those people were seniors last year and I missed the boat on them. But there’s still quite a few people who are seniors this year that I’ll finally be able to take a run at.

“I just kind of get into the mindset of, if I’m not the first to score, then I’ll be the last,’ he added. “You have to go into a match, not cocky like I’m going to pummel this guy, but I’m going to win this because I have to. That’s my job and I’m here to do that.”

(Keystone junior Josh Beal displaying the letter C he earned from Clarion Area High School as a wrestler for that program)

Beal has done that job well so far. He’s 8-2 with four wins by fall early this season.

Not bad for a heavyweight who is often giving up 30 — and sometimes 40 — pounds to his opponent on the mat.

Beal is by no means tiny — he’s a solid 6-foot, 250 pounds. But in the world of heavyweights, he’s one of the smallest in District 9.

He makes up for it with his athleticism, speed and a fair share of grit.

“Josh is in great shape, strong and can move for a big guy,” said Clarion coach Lee Weber. “I will take his speed and explosiveness over size any day. Once Josh has more wrestling under his belt, eliminate a few mistakes and get into his style of wrestling, he can beat anybody.”

Beal is also a smart wrestler.

He’s shown an uncanny ability to recognize weakness in his foe and then exploit it.

“You get heavies that are 6-6 and pushing 290 pounds and barely making weight,” Beal said. “If you get dropped by one of those guys, you’re not getting up. They’re gonna absolutely maul you. I’ve been trying to train like that. I do speed training with one of our assistants who is built like a heavyweight. In the last few years, I’ve been the unique one at 285. I think all my matches last year, they were 280 and above. I was moving weight I didn’t have.”

Weber thinks Beal’s size doesn’t really matter that much.

Beal is relentless on the mat, both during matches and in the room during practice.

“Josh comes in with a plan at every practice and truly works through it; he will get better,” Weber said. “I expect Josh to be near the top in every tourney, but it will take a focused game plan and hard work. I believe he’s up for the challenge.”

Beal certainly is on the football field as one of the best offensive guards in D9.

Beal helped open holes for Kyle Nellis, who went over 1,000 yards rushing this season for Keystone, Adian Sell and Tyler Albright. He pass protected for a pair of quarterbacks, Rayce Weaver and Drew Keth, in the Panthers’ dangerous offense.

Keystone went 7-5 and won their first D9 playoff game in 33 years.

Beal has a clear view of his future. He wants to suit up on Saturdays.

“I would love to play football at the next level. Wrestling? Probably not at a higher level because I don’t think I’m that much of a genetic freak to be able to do that,” Beal said. “Hopefully a D-II school or low D-I because I think that’s within my reach at the moment. This spring and summer is going to be a big one for me.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.