Wilding looking for more titles

Published Feb 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm (Updated Feb 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm)

Corey Wilding already has a WPIAL and a PIAA state championship but not in the sport he prefers.

During the autumn months, the 18-year-old senior helped Upper St. Clair capture the district and state team trophies for boys’ golf. This weekend, he begins his quest for a wrestling title.

“I like wrestling better,” admitted the son of Jim and Carla Wilding. “The feeling you get out of it. Losing eats away at you and when you win in wrestling, the feeling is nothing like anything else in this world.”

Wilding has enjoyed that winning feeling frequently. This winter, he sports a 28-2 record. Earlier this year, he recorded a technical fall during the Chartiers Valley Duals and surpassed 100 victories for his career. His brother, Austin, along with Mike and MacKenzie McQuire, Tom Bogan, Zach Hawk and Russell Kropp are the only other grapplers in the school to accomplish the feat.

Of the milestone Wilding said that it had been a goal of his since he started wrestling 12 years ago. “To reach (100 wins) is special because all the guys from our school are legendary,” he said. “It’s cool to be in the same group as them. Absolutely,” he continued. “It’s meaningful and awesome. It’s nice to think that I have those wrestling abilities.”

Wilding, however, believes he has the ability to do more. That is why Feb. 22 is so critical. The individual section tournament at Baldwin is the steppingstone to the WPIAL and Southwestern Regional championships scheduled for Feb. 27 through March 1 at Canon-McMillan. The top three finishers at regionals advance to the PIAA championships set for March 6-8 at the Giant Center in Hershey.

“One hundred wins is nice,” Wilding conceded, “but the big goal is to get to states.”

That would be a first for Wilding, who competed at 112 as a freshman, 120 as a sophomore and 132 as a junior. This winter, he wrestles at 145, which features defending state champion Solomon Chishko from Canon-McMillan (16-3). Josh Maruca (30-4) also wrestles in the division. He helped Franklin Regional to the WPIAL as well as the PIAA team titles.

Wilding knows he faces an uphill battle. “Every year, I have had to wrestle tough, hard kids. The past three years, the section champion has gone on to win the WPIAL title,” he pointed out, reiterating his objective to make states.

“I try not to think about who I wrestle. Rather, I go out and wrestle the way I can. I focus on me and my moves,” Wilding continued. “I can’t worry about someone else.”

When he isn’t competing, Wilding does worry about others. Not too long ago, he and his friend, Carlton Gibson, began raising awareness and money to fight malaria in Africa through the charitable organization Nothing But Nets. Also as a member of the golf team, he helped raised $8,288 for colorectal cancer research through the Birdies For A Cause program.

“I like to look at ways to make a difference,” said Wilding. “I think it’s pretty awesome what we did as a team,” he added of the golf pledges. While birdies were the goal, eagles and hole-in-ones counted, too. And, Wilding did ace one once at the St. Clair Country Club. “I remember it because I shot badly the whole entire day and then I got the hole-in-one on the last hole to finish even par.”

When it comes to golf, Wilding and his mates were well under par, breaking records on their way to the PIAA state championship. USC had four golfers shoot in the 70s to win the team title. The Panthers also won their 18th WPIAL title.

Because golf usually was reserved for the summer, Wilding started wrestling because it was a winter activity. Yet, the sports have their similarities, he says.

“They are sports within a sport. When you have a bad match or a bad move, you have to put it behind you or else you can’t compete. There is a mental toughness involved in both sports,” he said.

In 10th grade, Wilding switched his focus to wrestling because of the sole difference between the sports. “You can have a bad round on the golf course, but when you lose in wrestling, the feeling eats at you. That drives me.”

Coming from a large family drives Wilding. He is the middleman among five siblings and Austin, who attends the United States Military Academy, is his role model.

“Having a big family is awesome,” Wilding said, “and being the middle kid is the best of both worlds. There is always something to do and no idle time. It’s best because you have structure and someone to look up to. I’ve always been amazed at how good (Austin) was and felt that if I could do half the things that he could do, then I would be happy.”

Wilding is every bit the student Austin was. He maintains a 4.5 GPA and plans to major in engineering. He has narrowed his college choices to his parents’ alma mater, Virginia Tech, Army or Navy. Wilding, who has visited all three, does not shy away from military life.

“It’s strict and disciplined but so is wrestling. Wrestling helps with that,” he noted. “Wherever I go, I will wrestle in college. The ultimate goal is to compete in the NCAA.”

With his signature move, a single-leg takedown, Wilding hopes to emulate his brother’s success. “Austin was always the best in high school and hopefully I can continue in his footsteps but senior year is real tough.”

Tough was the team competition. While the Panthers made the playoffs during Wilding’s freshman and sophomore seasons, they failed to qualify for the WPIAL team tournament. “That was definitely disappointing,” Wilding said. “Team competition is a cool experience. Everybody on the team gave their all. Everybody left everything on the mat.”

At Upper St. Clair, Wilding gives his all in everything he does. In addition to his athletics, he is a member of the National Honor Society as well as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Plus, he has been recognized as a Student of the Year in the past. Perhaps his involvement and benevolence is why he was also recognized as Homecoming King in the fall.

“I never expected it. I’m not sure I am popular. I have friends but it’s not like I have that many so it definitely was a surprise. Real cool,” Wilding concluded.

Corey Wilding File

Age: 18

Parents: Jim and Carla

Siblings: Austin, 19, who wrestles at West Point; D.J., 18; Brook, 17; Hannah, 15; Lydia, 14, Mary, 13

School: Upper St. Clair

Year: Senior

GPA: 4.6

Sports: Wrestling, golf

Activities: National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

College choices: Virginia Tech, West Point, United States Naval Academy.

Major: Engineering

Favorite color: Red because it’s part of the school’s colors.

Best read: The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

Favorite class: A.P. English

Favorite fruit: Apples

Candy: Sweedish Fish

Dessert: My mom’s brownies

Restaurant: Primanti Brothers.

Favorite athletes: Justin Rose from England golfer; Coleman Scott, wrestler from Waynesburg who won a bronze medal at the Olympics.

Dream job: To be Thomas Steve’s caddie.

Who you would like to have dinner with: My family

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