Jon Mitchell

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January 30, 2013
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Standing tall among the boys

PARACHUTE - Cody Pfau stood on the gym floor at the Warrior Classic wrestling tournament in December, her face showing her annoyance.

The public address announcer reeled off an impressive resume for the Grand Valley High School senior: A silver medal she won at the Pan Am Games wrestling tournament in Maracaibo, Venezuela, and her national title in Fargo, N.D.

As those accomplishments were announced to everyone watching the tournament finals, Pfau turned to her coach, Rick Gallegos, and defiantly said: "So? I was wrestling girls!"

"She tells me that as all of these things are being said about her," Gallegos recalled. "She figured that none of those guys cared about that. There were some people in the stands saying 'Wow!' But to her, she knows that she's competing in a boys sport now."

Piling up the wins

Pfau has more than held her own on the wrestling mat since she began her high school wrestling career as a freshman at Class 2A Meeker. She's qualified for the state wrestling championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver twice, the second time coming last year at 3A Grand Valley.

On Jan. 18, she won the 106-pound weight class championship at the Jim McCall Invitational in Leadville, needing just a combined 2:03 to pin her first four opponents before winning the tournament championship by major decision, 14-1.

It was the third weight-class tournament title Pfau has won this year. The first came at the Delta Panther Invitational in December, when Pfau finished 4-0 in her weight class. The second came at the Eagle Valley Invitational on Jan. 12, when the first of three

opponents she was slated to face refused to wrestle her and forfeited.

"I've never had that happen before, where a guy refused to wrestle me," she said, sheepishly. "I'd rather not say who he was. I don't want to embarrass him or his school."

Pfau did plenty of that in Leadville the weekend of Jan. 18. She won her first four matches by pin in 13, 28, 34 and 48 seconds and, with her 4-1 record at this past weekend's Rumble in the Rockies dual tournament at Rifle High School, her record moved to 20-3. That put her fourth in the state on Jan. 18 in Tim Yount's "On the Mat" rankings for Class 3A wrestlers, behind Diondre Garcia of Monte Vista, Tel Kelly of Alamosa and Channing Lewis of Eaton.

Not that she cares about that kind of thing.

"That's just paper," Pfau said. "You have to wrestle the same kids no matter what. I'll just wrestle the same. People will psych themselves out if they [pay attention to rankings]. They're going to wrestle defensively and say, 'Oh, this guy is going to be super good, so I have to protect myself.' If you don't wrestle hard and aggressive, you're going to get beat no matter what."

Used to wrestling the guys

Pfau has been wrestling since she was an 8-year-old, throwing herself into the mix of boy wrestlers since she didn't have a choice at the time. She stuck with it and, after her skills and presence on the mat improved over time, tournaments followed.

So did success, and a lot of it. This past summer, Pfau took gold in her 33-wrestler weight class at the ASICS Footwear Vaughn Junior and Cadet National Championships in Fargo, N.D. That followed up a big performance on an international stage, where she took silver at the girls Pan Am Championships just a few days earlier in Maracaibo, Venezuela. She was part of a national team that took second place.

Needless to say, much of Pfau's success against girls on the mat has come from wrestling against guys since she started the sport. Her teammates at Grand Valley embrace her, and giving up 20 pounds to her wrestling partner in practice, 126-pounder Miguel Valles, prepares her even more for matches in her own weight class.

Pfau's skill set on the mat comes as a surprise to those who have never faced her. What exactly is it like to face Pfau for the first time?

"Not very fun," said freshman first-year wrestler Nathan Dresser, a teammate of Pfau's. "We were up in our stances, and she grabbed my wrist and jerked me in one direction, did a single-leg [move] on me and pinned me in about 20 seconds. It blew my mind."

It's also in the genes

Part of Pfau's success might also be attributed to her pedigree. Her mom, Megan, played Division II college basketball and golf at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. Her dad, Doug, was an all-state high school football player in Ennis, Mont.

Her brother, Zane, is a four-sport athlete at Brush High School (golf, baseball, basketball and wrestling), and her youngest brother, Wyatt, plays football and baseball and wrestles in Brush, where this past summer he won a weight-class title at a national wrestling tournament in Utah.

Doug Pfau took a teaching job in Brush this past fall and brought Zane and Wyatt with him. Cody and Meg stayed behind in Parachute, however, since Cody was on pace to be Grand Valley's valedictorian.

She's reached that pinnacle with a 4.2 grade point average, which rose thanks to the 4.5 GPA she turned in this past fall semester. She's also Grand Valley's student body president.

Yet with all that going for her, Cody Pfau will be the last person to brag.

"She doesn't want to talk to anyone about her accomplishments," Megan Pfau said, "because she doesn't think they're very big accomplishments."

On to college

The 17-year-old has made wrestling aggressive a staple for herself, and it's paid off. She recently signed to wrestle for Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City, Okla., an NAIA school that has won the past four Women's College Wrestling Association national championships and can boast of 10 individual national champions since 2008. Going into the national championship tournament on Jan. 26, OCU boasted an 18-3 dual-meet record. Pfau earned a hefty scholarship to the school, where she wants to study medical biology.

"Kudos to her and everything she's accomplished in the women's division," Gallegos said. "Right now, we're so hard on her because we're basically preparing her for her future. We don't hold anything back."

Talk in recent years has centered on Pfau's potential to wrestle in the Olympic Games, possibly as soon as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016. Pfau feels she'd have a better shot at the 2020 Olympics, when she's more experienced at age 25. The site for those Olympics is undetermined, but finalists include Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid.

In the meantime, there's plenty of goals Pfau would like to focus on in the next month, such as winning the regional tournament her school will host on Feb. 15-16. Until that happens, she's not allowed to talk about the state tournament because, as Pfau puts it, "I haven't gotten there yet."

"Humility is taught in our room," Gallegos said. "If we see one person getting up on themselves, they'll hear about it. Cody personifies humility and she's preparing for her future. If she chooses for that to be in wrestling, she'll be great."

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The Post Independent Updated Jan 30, 2013 04:53PM Published Jan 30, 2013 04:49PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.