High School Wrestling Notebook (Dec. 31)

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Big Macs heading different directions

Canon-McMillan's top two wrestlers have chosen a different path for their college choice. Connor Schram is going to the West Coast, and Cody Wiercioch is staying home.

Schram, a three-time PIAA Class AAA finalist and one-time champion, chose Stanford University. Wiercioch, a two-time PIAA champion and one-time runner-up, chose Pitt.

"My parents and I always joked when I was a kid about going to Stanford," Schram said. "It's such a beautiful school. So during my freshman year, I emailed the coach and told him I was interested in wrestling there."

The email eventually led to a recruiting visit and Stanford coach Jason Borrelli offered a scholarship. Schram wasted no time in signing a letter of intent.

"They have everything there: good wrestling, great workout partners, great coaches, and it's a great academic school. And the weather is great. I can't ask for much more," Schram said.

Stanford has high academic standards for its students. But that's nothing new for Schram, who has a 4.5 grade-point average and scored 28 out of 36 on his ACT test. And he's not concerned about being so far from home.

"With athletics, you don't come home much anyway," Schram said. "My sister [Taylor] is playing soccer at Penn State, and I only see her at Thanksgiving and Christmas."

And it doesn't look as if Schram will be homesick at all.

"My parents are looking into buying a home in California and spending winters there so they can see me wrestle," Schram said.

Wiercioch's parents won't have to go far to see him wrestle, as he has chosen Pitt.

"Choosing a college is never easy," said Wiercioch, who could have picked almost any NCAA Division I school. "I decided to take a look at Pitt and I fell in love with the campus, the wrestlers and the coaches. It seemed to be the right fit."

Wiercioch had offers from Penn State, North Carolina and Virginia but chose to stay home.

"Wrestling close to home was not the reason I chose Pitt, but it's certainly a bonus," Wiercioch said.

Schram and Wiercioch are two of three Canon-McMillan wrestlers who have accepted a Division I scholarship. The third is junior Solomon Chishko, who verbally committed to Virginia Tech.

Jersey shows its power

New Jersey's Blair Academy dominated the Powerade tournament field for the second consecutive year. The Buccaneers had seven finalists again and claimed four titles.

Thirteen of Blair's 14 entries earned place-winner status by finishing among the top eight in their weight class. The Buccaneers accumulated 299 team points, almost doubling runner-up Moeller of Ohio, which had 160.

One of Blair's finalists -- Addison Knepshield -- has ties to southwestern Pennsylvania, as his parents reside in Ford City.

Knepshield attended Shady Side Academy as a freshman, then transferred to Blair Academy for his sophomore year. Knepshield, now a senior, dropped a 3-1 decision to Burrell's Dakota DesLauriers in the 182-pound final. DesLauriers was the defending champion.

"Addison's mom is a Beattie," said Burrell coach Bud Sines, referring to a wrestling family from Burrell. "Our fans were cheering for him until the championship match. It was great to see Dakota and Addison make it to the finals."

Century club grows

Norwin's Heath Coles, Kittanning's Jason Nolf and Central Catholic's Justin Alexander joined the WPIAL century club at the Powerade tournament.

Coles posted five wins to reach the 100-win plateau, including a 3-2 victory against Greensburg Salem's Tyler Reinhart in the 160-pound third-place consolation.

Nolf recorded his 100th win with a pin in the first round, then registered four more victories en route to the 132-pound title.

Alexander placed fifth at 138 pounds after posting a 6-2 record. Butler's Blake Caudill and Kiski Area's Kyle Skelly also joined the century club this week. Caudill placed third at the Southmoreland Holiday Classic. Skelly was a runner-up at the Manheim Holiday Tournament.

Fighting for four

Freedom's Boe Bonzo and South Side Beaver's Nathan Reckner have a chance to join an elite club at the Midwestern Athletic Conference tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday at South Side Beaver. Both are three-time champions. Only eight wrestlers have won four titles in the 45-year history of the tournament.

Section play is back

Section play resumes Wednesday as Kiski Area, ranked No. 2 in WPIAL Class AAA, plays host to Franklin Regional in Section 1A. Both teams have a 2-0 section mark. Hampton, ranked No. 4 in Class AAA, plays host to Central Catholic in Section 3B. Both teams are 2-0 in the section.