Jared Beckwith's junior season was going pretty smoothly. He was 15-2 with 14 pins, and his only losses were to Bald Eagle Area's eventual Class AAA state champion Jake Taylor and to Bellefonte's eventual Northwest Regional runner-up Nick Shawley.
The Tyrone 182-pounder qualified for the PIAA Class AA Championships as a sophomore, and it appeared he was ready to make another run for a medal at Hershey.
Beckwith's only health problem was a torn meniscus in his knee that he was going to continue to wrestle with. But, his health, as well as the path for his season, changed on a cold, icy day on Jan. 24, 2013.
Mirror photo by?Gary M. Baranec
Tyrone senior Jared Beckwith is 12-0 with nine pins after his junior season was cut short because of a car accident.
On that morning, he was driving the truck his dad had just given him for the first time on Route 99. Around the Bald Eagle exit, his truck hit a patch of black ice, skidded into the other lane and hit another coming the other way.
"I didn't really know how [the truck] handled [driving in bad weather]," Beckwith said. "It just so happened the weather was really bad, and I was actually doing 15 or 20 miles per hour under the speed limit, but the truck just went sideways. I saw another car coming in the other lane, and I couldn't stop, so I just hit it.
"Truthfully at the time, I had a match that night [against Bellwood-Antis] I thought I was going to wrestle in. I didn't feel any pain at first. I was more worried about the other lady that I had hit, but she was fine. Right after the wreck, I wasn't too worried about myself, but as all the excitement wore off, all the pain started to kick in, and I realized it was a little more devastating than I thought."
n He was 15-2 with 14 pins last year before he suffered a season-ending kidney injury in an automobile accident.
n He's 12-1 with nine pins as a senior.
n A state qualifier as a sophomore, he's 75-32 in his career.
It turned out that Beckwith had a pretty bad kidney injury. He was taken to the Altoona Regional Trauma Center, and he spent the next three or four days in intensive care before he was released.
"They said my kidney was actually mush. It really wasn't even there," Beckwith said. "They said they didn't know how it was functioning, but it healed up very quickly. I guess someone up above was looking out for me or something. The doctor told me if I wasn't in the shape [athletically] that I was in, any other person probably wouldn't have made it out of something like that. But she said since I was fit, it definitely helped me on the impact."
"It can happen to anybody," Tyrone coach Blair Packer said. "I'm just thankful that he didn't get hurt worse. It was just a matter of letting the inner body heal."
The problem, though, with the healing process is that it ended his season. He wasn't cleared to wrestle until late March, which was well after the state tournament.
"They wouldn't clear me to wrestle, and I tried everything to get them to, but they wouldn't let it happen," Beckwith said. "I can't really describe how terrible it was. I had a good season going, and it kind of got taken away. It was just heartbreaking, I guess."
"My understanding is anything with the kidney, liver or any vital organ, it's an automatic three months [recovery time]," Packer said, "so there's not a whole lot you can do about that. Wrestling is important, but not at the expense of a kid."
When he finally got cleared, Beckwith decided to have his knee surgically repaired, which pushed the start of his offseason training back until early July. He's been training and wrestling ever since, and Packer he sees a sense of urgency in Beckwith because it's his senior season.
So far, so good. Beckwith is 12-0 with nine pins, is the top-ranked 195-pounder in the Mirror rankings and is ranked sixth statewide by Off The Mat.
"I'd say it felt great [coming back], but my knee wasn't at 100 percent at first," Beckwith said. "It was a struggle because of a lot of emotions. It feels great now. All of it is behind me, and I'm moving forward."
"He's much more on that he was last year," Packer said. "Last year, he was on track to get to states, and this year he is even better."
While he was a state qualifier his sophomore year, Beckwith, like many wrestlers with his success, was very good in his younger days. He won national tournaments and a Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling state title at 145 pounds in 2009 in the 11-12 age group. Even then, though, he had to fight through adversity, winning a state title in the overtime tiebreaker with an eye injury.
"Yeah, that seems to be the problem that follows me," he said. "I try not to let anything hold me back. I just keep getting back into it and taking it one step at a time. That's all you can do."
He did, admittedly, get burned out from all the wrestling, He came up as a freshman and went 21-17 wrestling at 171 and 189 pounds and placed sixth in the District 6 Tournament at 171. Not what he had in mind when he moved up to the high school level.
"My freshman year was a shock," he said. "I guess I knew I wasn't going to do as great as I wanted to, but that definitely set a little fire behind me that I needed to step it up."
As a sophomore, he went 31-13 with 19 pins, took third at 182 at districts, fourth at the rugged Southwest Regional and went 1-2 at states, just missing the medal round by a win.
"I think a lot of people were surprised, but I wasn't surprised," Beckwith said of his sophomore season. "It was a great feeling. I wish I could have done better [at states]. I regret not doing better more than just making it there. My goal was to at least place."
If he stays healthy, Beckwith will get that shot again to make a state medal run again. He's one of the bright spot in Tyrone's winless season so far. The rest of the season has so much potential for Beckwith.
"I can't wait to see what the rest of the season actually has to bring," he said. "I'm ecstatic to see what I can do. I feel great. It's just a matter of what's going to happen."