For Wiercioch, it must be the shoes

March 8, 2013
Cody Wiercioch of Canon-McMillan takes Tom Sleigh of Dubois to the mat during their 170-pound bout in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Championships in Hershey Friday. Wiercioch won 11-3 and is two wins from his third state title. - Joe Tuscano / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

HERSHEY – Take one look at his wrestling shoes and you are certain he found them in a consignment shop.

They are coming apart at the seams in some places, holes have worn through in others and the support disappeared long ago.

But Cody Wiercioch expects these shoes will be the ones he wears when he stands on the awards stand to receive another medal in Hershey.

The senior from Canon-McMillan and future Pitt wrestler rolled over Tom Sleigh of Dubois in Friday afternoon’s quarterfinals in the PIAA Class AAA Championships at the Giant Center.

Wiercioch and three of his teammates – Dalton Macri (120), Connor Schram (126) and Solomon Chishko (145) – moved into today’s semifinals (9 a.m.) and each expects to be wrestling for a title when the finals get under way at 7 p.m. So does Waynesburg’s A.C. Headlee, who had a dramatic win in the quarterfinals at 113.

Canon-McMillan did nothing to hurt its chances of winning a third straight team title in this event, taking over first place with 40 points. Central Dauphin is second at 36 and Franklin Regional is third at 33.5.

Wiercioch hopes to cap this great run with his third state title. He won at 170 for the Big Macs last year and took gold and silver medals in Class AA while wrestling for Charleroi.

For Wiercioch, it just might be the shoes.

“I’ve had them for the last two years,” he said. “I like the way they feel.”

Wiercioch’s superstitions seem pretty tame compared to others. He never goes onto the mat without first wiping the bottom of his shoes with his hands. He also wears the same pair of socks for each championships round. After they have been washed, of course.

“I just can’t find any others that feel as comfortable,” he said. “I don’t even bring an extra pair. If they (break apart), I’ll just tape them together.”

Wiercioch (43-0) will wrestle Colton Peppelman of Central Dauphin in the semifinals. Peppelman lost to Joey Krulock of Mechanicsburg in the Southcentral Region finals, but Krulock had to default out of the tournament after injuring a knee in Thursday’s first round.

“I’m just going to out and have fun,” said Wiercioch. “I feel like if you think too much about (the next match), it can cause you problems.”

Schram (42-3) was just as dominating as Wiercioch, chalking up a 20-5 technical fall win over Chase Zemenak of Nazareth. Kyle Krasavage (40-0) of Wyoming Valley West is the semifinal opponent.

“I never wrestled (Krasavage) before,” said Schram. “I knows he’s undefeated and probably a good kid. I just want to wrestle my best.”

Schram, a three-time finalist and gold medalist as a freshman, said it’s inspiring to have so many teammates with him in this tournament.

“They give me support and pick me up when I’m down,” he said. “I try my best, and it’s always good to win and score points for the team.”

Chishko (9-0) was not in any trouble despite a close a 3-1 win over Mason Bentzel of Spring Grove. The C-M junior takes on Nolan Barger (NW-1, 37-1) in the semifinals. Like the rest of the Big Macs, he realizes a win for him means team points and a possible title.

“There is a certain amount of pressure,” he said. “You have to worry about yourself. When you worry about how you wrestle, that’s when you make mistakes. I want to open up and score.”

Macri (35-2) took an 18-5 win from Zack Clingan of Spring Grove in the quarters and draws Vincenzo Joseph (24-8) of Central Catholic in a rematch of last week’s district semifinals that Joseph won.

Headlee (41-3) hit a double-leg takedown midway through the third period to produce a 3-1 decision over Derek Gulotta of Owen J. Roberts. Zack Fuentes (SE-1, 45-4) of Norristown is his semifinals opponent.

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.

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