Junior aims high under dad’s lead

By: Nathan Hoy

Heart beating fast, sweat dripping profusely, muscles aching and only one thing is on the mind of junior Gabe Penrith: do not let this guy beat you. As the mental battle becomes more real, all that matters at the end of those seemingly hour-long periods is a victory over his worst enemy at the moment.

Wrestling was kind of inevitable for Penrith while growing up in a wrestling household. It was one of those things that he was just expected to do, and something he was expected to be good at.

And he was just that; good at it. Penrith’s dad may be a little more decorated in athletics than most dads. When his father Brad grew up in New York, he was a one-time state champion and got recruited to wrestle at the University of Iowa where he won a national championship and became a three-time finalist on the world team and took the world silver. However, after getting hurt, Brad didn’t make the Olympic team but was as close as one could’ve possibly gotten. He then went on to coach for Arizona State, Boise State, Nebraska and the University of Northern Iowa. Brad is now currently coaching for Cedar Falls High School.

“I like having my dad as a coach,” Penrith said with a smile. “He can see what I’m doing and talk to me about what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong. It’s also a lot easier to get extra work done. My dad’s not afraid to get on me at practice, which I’m thankful for, and he makes sure I’m doing the right thing.”

Along with Penrith’s dad being a coach and being with him every step of the way, his younger brother Jakey is up wrestling varsity this year alongside him as well. Jakey wrestles at 106 pounds and is already having a great year.

“Jakey is doing really good this year,” Penrith said. “He wrestles a lot like my dad. He’s a tough, good little wrestler.”

Jakey took 5th at Keith Young, which is pretty tough to do, and expectations for him are very high. The two brothers get along very well and wrestle at different weights, so there really isn’t any competition between the two.

Wrestling varsity as a sophomore, Penrith had a whole year to see what the big league was like and got to compete at a level that many sophomores don’t get the opportunity to compete at. He wrestled at 113 pounds and got a first hand look at what it would be like helping to lead a very successful wrestling program the next year. The past season the varsity wrestling team had a bunch of seniors who played a huge impact on the success of the team. Penrith took note of these guys and a lot of the things they did to make them so successful. “I definitely looked up to some of the older guys like Dan Kelly, Blake Halstead and Rayce Willett,” Penrith said. “They taught me that things will get tough, but you just can’t quit.”

This year is a little different. Penrith is wrestling at 120 pounds and has experience, determination and a hunger for success that has grown even from last year. “My goal is to make it to State and hopefully place this year,” he said.

Throughout the offseason, he put in loads of extra work practicing drills, staying refreshed, loose and lifting every chance he got. As the season rolled around, practices got intense, and the time had finally come for all the offseason work to pay off. During the beginning, practices were tough with lots of wrestle offs to determine who would wrestle varsity. Wednesdays are “make weight” day and are still pretty tough.

“It’s get in get out, short and hard,” Penrith said as he smirked and shook his head a little. “A normal practice usually just looks like warming up, drilling, technique and usually we just wrestle for conditioning but sometimes do a little extra.”

Penrith said he enjoys eating a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during the season and is constantly drinking water and watching his weight.  “It’s kind of a misconception when it comes to the way wrestlers eat,” Penrith said. “It’s not like I totally starve myself. However, I do reduce meals, and I don’t drink pop, just a lot of water. It gets tough. You gotta be disciplined. Without discipline, it’s gonna be tough constantly watching weight.”

As Penrith’s arm is raised in the air once again, his mind quickly switches to who is next in line. It’s a legacy that’s been well carried out and a legacy that will not die for a very long time.

“Wrestling gives me a challenge. I like knowing that I’m accomplishing something,” Penrith said. “I like staying busy, and it definitely keeps me busy.”

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