Greylock freshman wrestler Pelletier thinks like a veteran
WILLIAMSTOWN -- High school freshmen don't often make it to the biggest stage in their chosen sport. When they get there, it's generally understood if they're a little awe-struck by the surroundings.
For Mount Greylock wrestler Devin Pelletier, that sense of awe was gone by the time he took to the mat in last Saturday's Western Massachusetts Division III 138-pound championship match.
"I put it all in that match. I knew I couldn't be nervous for that," the freshman said.
He wasn't nervous -- and he wasn't wasting any time, either. Just 1 minute, 18 seconds into his final, Pelletier had pinned South Hadley's Chris Rojas to secure one of two individual Western Mass. titles for the Mounties.
He's one of six Mounties whose quest for a state championship begins today in Foxborough.
Pelletier is 44-7 this season, and is seeded third in his weight class heading into today's first-round match against Triton's Cody Nixon.
He won't be awestruck on Division III's biggest stage this weekend, either. Pelletier's coach, Ray Miro, has been preparing him well throughout the season. The freshman said the coach's pep talks reminded him that everyone puts on his singlet one leg at a time.
"I felt all week, and I told him, ‘I think you can win this thing, but you've got to believe in yourself,' " Miro said.
He certainly believed in himself as soon as he got the state-ranked Rojas in a cradle Saturday night at Holyoke High School.
"That was phenomenal," Pelletier said. "I didn't think I was even going to win. When I locked up the cradle, I knew I was going to win at that point."
Once the referee's hand slapped the mat to indicate the pin, it wasn't Pelletier celebrating loudly. The Greylock coaching staff, led by Miro, cheered and hollered -- perhaps more than they had publicly cheered all season to that point.
"If you saw him after he won, there was no [exuberance] or anything like that," Miro said. "We were excited. I thought he could beat Rojas, but I didn't think he was going to catch him that quick."
Pelletier said his only desire was to win and to shake his opponent's hand.
"I didn't want to be one of those guys who's all showy after he wins," he said.
That's pretty grounded for a freshman who already has a sectional championship to his credit. He knows he's got three more years after this year to build his resume.
The tough part is keeping the focus on this weekend, and maybe even the All-State meet after that.
"I try to focus, but sometimes my mind wanders off," Pelletier said. "My goal, as a senior, is to win All-States. That's my ultimate goal. Every once in a while, I'll think about that."
To reach Matthew Sprague:
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