A Chicago resident and graduate of St. Monica Academy, Sam Schierloh is enjoying a successful senior year. After starting at linebacker and earning all-Catholic Blue honors for Loyola’s Class 8A state championship football team, he will wrestle at the sectionals for the first time this weekend, which is Friday and Saturday at Barrington. After not wrestling as a junior, Schierloh secured his spot at 195 pounds with an 8-6 decision in the third-place match at the Class 3A Fremd Regional. The top three in each weight class advanced. Schierloh took third at 195 pounds at the Catholic League’s meet Jan. 19 at Mount Carmel. Senior Aidan McKeag is Loyola’s other representative at Barrington. He will compete at 132 pounds.
MAROON & GOLD: Did you know what you needed to do at the regional to advance? What were some of the details from the third-place match?
SAM SCHIERLOH: Yes, I knew I had to finish third. He was a tough kid. I was down 6-4 going into the third and then tied it up. I was able to score in the final seconds to win. It was kind of like a buzzer-beater.
M&G: Most of your 19 wins this season are by fall. But you told me your style has evolved. How so?
SS: Coming from football, I was not conditioned the way you needed to be to wrestle. I was trying to finish matches in the first period. If I went any longer, I probably wouldn’t win. My mentality was to get the match over with as soon as possible. But my stamina is good right now. Also, the competition has been so much better the last couple of weeks. I know I can’t go for throws every time. I have to be more conservative and smarter. Regionals showed me I can go the distance and get a win.
M&G: Why did you sit out last season and why did you decide to wrestle as a senior?
SS: I took off last year to concentrate on football. I wanted to get bigger in the offseason. But I always thought I would wrestle my senior year. I’ve been doing it since third grade, and I have always loved it. I’m glad I came back.
M&G: Did you set any specific goals for yourself?
SS: I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to do better than I did as a sophomore when I finished around .500. I knew I lost a lot after sitting out, and it would be hard to adjust again. I definitely wanted to excel. More than anything else, though, I came back because I love the sport and missed it.
M&G: Have you looked at the sectional bracket and mapped out a plan?
SS: I know who I wrestle in the first round, and that’s about it. I don’t like looking at more than I have to, like records or future opponents. I did that as a sophomore, and it sometimes made me feel like I didn’t have a chance against some kids. I’m focusing on what I can do to win, no matter who I am wrestling.
M&G: The football team received its state title rings Friday. Before that, the school celebrated the season by raising the Class 8A state championship banner Jan. 18. The 1993 football team that won the Class 6A state title also was recognized that night.
SS: The rings are so cool. We got them around lunch time, and most of the players wore them around school that day. Everyone wanted to try them on. I had some people over for the Super Bowl, and everybody wanted to see it. I’m not wearing it anymore because I don’t want to lose it. I keep it in a case on my desk.
MG: How special was it to watch the banner go up into the rafters? Were you able to meet anyone from the 1993 team?
SS: It was awesome to share that with the people who were there. It’s still such an amazing feeling. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to talk to any of the older guys. I wish I did. They all seem pretty cool. It was great they were invited back. It’s cool to know we share this bond with them.
M&G: How often do you think about the season?
SS: Quite often, actually. My dad plays the highlight video a lot at home. Nothing beats what we did, especially how we started and how we fought. What we accomplished will stick with me the rest of my life.
M&G: Other than beating Brother Rice 13-3 in the Class 8A state final, what’s a memory that stands out from the season?
SS: The weekend we lost to Montini to go 3-3, some of us went to Cole Livaditis’ house to talk about where we were as a team. We all made personal goals. We wanted to turn it around. We went back to his house after we made the playoffs for the pairings show. When we found out we were going on the road to play Minooka, we all went insane. The best part was [NBC Sports Chicago’s] Edgy Tim [O’Halloran] picked us to lose. Right then, we embraced the underdog role.
M&G: What are your post-Loyola plans?
SS: I’m still deciding if I want to play football in college. If I do, it’s probably between Illinois Wesleyan, St. Thomas or John Carroll. If I don’t play football, I’m looking at Wisconsin, Fordham and Indiana. I want to study business.