Belle Vernon’s Cole Weightman returns, hopes to conquer stacked weight class

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Wednesday, February 23, 2022 | 6:41 PM


Belle Vernon senior Cole Weightman recently made two tough decisions about his future.

First, he picked IUP over Cal (Pa.) to play football, which was difficult choice.

And second, after talking to his dad Ed, he decided to wrestle.

“We talked about making history,” Cole Weightman said. “I have a chance at becoming a three-time WPIAL champion, and I could be Belle Vernon’s first PIAA champion. I want to give it a shot.”

Weightman returned to the Belle Vernon lineup Feb. 12 at the Montour Duals. He went 5-0 with four pins.

He was out for much of the season while recovering from surgery on his meniscus, and he now is following a path similar to what Franklin Regional’s Spencer Lee did in 2016 when he returned for the postseason. Lee won his third-consecutive PIAA title that year.

Weightman will find out quickly what he’s going to possibly face the next three weeks at the Section 2-3A tournament Saturday at Hempfield.

The 215-pound weight class is stacked, especially in Section 2, where five wrestlers capable of qualifying for the PIAA tournament compete for four spots at the WPIAL individual championships/PIAA Southwest Regional tournament on March 5-6.

Weightman is ranked fourth in the latest TribHSSN Live rankings behind No. 1 Brian Finnerty of Thomas Jefferson, No. 2 Corey Boerio of Latrobe and No. 3 Liam Volk-Klos of Seneca Valley. Finnerty (34-1) moved up from 189 this season, and he also edged Boerio (34-7), 1-0.

Also at 215 from Section 2 are Hempfield junior Elijah Binakonsky (16-2) and Connellsville senior Dennis Nichelson (24-6).

“I’ve been doing a lot of cardio and lifting after practice,” Weightman said. “Logan (Hoffman) and I go hard in the room. I feel I’m ready.”

Finnerty, like Weightman, is looking for his third Section 2 title.

Weightman’s career has been slowed by injuries. While not 100%, Weightman is eager to see how he ranks with guys who have wrestled the entire season.

“I just have to worry about finishing top four this weekend,” Weightman said, “then I‘ll worry about the WPIAL tournament the following week.”

Others in the weight class include Waynesburg junior Eli Makel (30-8), North Allegheny’s Aiden Buggey (27-10) and Chartiers Valley’s Joshua Sarasnick (24-6).

Latrobe coach Mark Mears is excited to see how things play out this season with Finnerty deciding to move away from Mt. Lebanon’s Mac Stout at 189 and with Weightman returning.

“There are going to be some great battles,” Mears said. “I feel Corey has as good as chance as anyone.”

There are 27 wrestlers in the four sections who are returning champions.

Franklin Regional senior Finn Solomon and Connellsville senior Jared Keslar are looking to become four-time champions. Going after their third titles are Hempfield senior Briar Priest, Seneca Valley junior Ty Chappel, Mt. Lebanon’s Stout and Waynesburg junior Rocco Welsh.

Waynesburg’s senior Cole Homet, a three-time champion, and Waynesburg sophomore Ky Szewczyk and Joe Simon won’t get a chance to defend titles because of injuries.

The section tournaments begin 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Other host schools are: Section 1 Kiski Area; Section 3 at North Allegheny and Section 4 at Peters Township.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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