Derry Area’s Hirak comes out of nowhere to become PIAA wrestling contender

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Wednesday, March 2, 2022 | 6:35 PM


Christian Hirak hadn’t wrestled since sixth grade before this season.

But he sure made up for lost time the past three months when he finished third in the WPIAL Class 2A championships at 160 pounds.

Now he heads to Peters Township on Friday and Saturday for the PIAA Class 2A Southwest Regional, where he hopes to qualify for the state tournament, which runs March 10-12 at Hershey. All he has to do is finish in the top six. He begins his quest against Penn Cambria’s Austin McCloskey.

It’s not that he didn’t want to wrestle. The school he attended (Grace Bible Academy) wouldn’t allow him to wrestle for Derry.

So he decided to compete in Jiu-Jitsu, and he’s earned a blue belt. He eventually would like to earn a black belt.

Heading into his senior season, Hirak felt wrestling combined with Jiu-Jitsu, would help him be a better Mixed Martial Arts fighter, something he wants to pursue after college.

So he decided to become a home-school student and wrestle for Derry. He and the Derry coaching staff are glad he did.

Hirak (28-5) defeated Burrell senior Damian Barr in the third-place match at WPIALs. He also placed fourth at the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association tournament, where he sustained a concussion in the third-place match against Franklin Regional’s Gavyn Beck.

“I definitely surprised myself this season,” Hirak said. “I felt I’d have a good year.

“I showed up a practice and told coaches (Troy) Dolan and (B.J.) Mikeska I wanted to wrestle. They didn’t know who I was, but they took me to All-American and Quest Wrestling.”

Dolan said he found out Hirak planned to wrestle when he got hired.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Dolan said. “He a very nice kid, polite and he’s worked hard from the start, and he’s continued that all season.

“I believe he has a very good chance at qualifying for states. It won’t be easy, but he has a chance.”

Hirak said his goal this season has been to get to Hershey

“I’m pleased so far,” Hirak said. “I’ve surprised a lot of people.”

Hirak plans to wrestle for Seton Hill.

He said Seton Hill coach Brian Tucker coached him in Jiu-Jitsu.

He learned going to your back isn’t good in wrestling. and he said one of his most satisfying victories this season was getting a second shot at Beck.

“I got knocked out in the first meeting,” Hirak said. “But when we met in the Derry Duals, I won 4-0. That was really rewarding for me. My goal is to get to Hershey. I believe I can get there.

“I knew some of the guys on the team from when I wrestled in sixth grade., but my teammates ended up with more faith in me than I had in myself.”

Now he hopes to take that new confidence into this weekend’s tournament.

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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