Despite the fact that Pella is widely considered one of the top heavyweights in the region, if not the state, and is a two-time state-qualifier, he doesn’t consider his past successes to be true successes at all.
For Pella, the only way he can end the year with a sense of accomplishment is if he does the one thing that he has dreamed of doing since he began wrestling in the third grade — win a state title.
“It would mean everything to win state,” said Pella, who has won more than 75 matches since he started wrestling for the Woodstock’s varsity team as a sophomore. “It’s been my goal since I started wrestling. This year is the last chance I have to do that, and I need to make the most of it.”
After placing fifth in last season’s traditional state tournament, Pella decided to step up his training regimen during the offseason.
Not content to take the summer off, Pella traveled to Edinburgh, Pa., to participate in the Super 32 national tournament, a tournament that, according to Woodstock coach Michael Powell, is one of the top competitions in the nation.
Once there, Pella only lost twice, with both losses coming against wrestlers that went on to finish inside of the top three.
Despite the quality of his opposition, Pella wasn’t happy with the results.
“The (Super 32) tournament helped me to improve because I wrestled guys that were good, like the ones I will see at state this year, but I didn’t do as well as I should have,” Pella said.
Pella’s preparations for wrestling were halted by Woodstock’s football season, in which he played as an offensive lineman.
As soon as the final football game was played, Pella was back in the gym, hoping to improve what was, in his mind, his greatest limitation during the 2011-12 season — his conditioning.
“Wrestling condition is different than football conditioning,” said Pella, who is sporting a 15-3 record so far this year. “Last year, it took me until the end of the season to get conditioned. When I was out of shape, I’d make mental mistakes, and it would cause me to lose. But this year, I’ve started conditioning earlier, so now I have a chance to get in better shape.”
Pella estimated that he was performing at just 70 percent of his potential.
“Once I get fully in shape, I’ll be at 100 percent,” he said.
At last weekend’s Creekview Invitational Tournament, Pella showed that, even when not at his best, he can be a force on the mat. In the 285-pound final, it took Pella only 32 seconds to pin Creekview’s Brock Tupman.
This is an improvement on his third-place finish at the CIT last year, which Pella sees as a sign of good things to come. But despite the tournament victory, Pella reiterated that winning a state title was the only goal he had in mind this year.
It is a goal Powell feels Pella is entirely capable of achieving.
“I think he is more than capable of winning a state championship,” Powell said. “There are probably less than a handful of kids that could beat him, and he is more than capable of beating those guys.”
Much like Pella, Powell believes that the best has yet to come from the senior.
“If he were to go against some of the wrestlers he lost to earlier in the year, I don’t think he would lose to them again,” Powell said. “He is getting better. Right now, he is meeting my expectations, but I am looking forward to seeing him exceed them.”