The road to Tokyo starts now

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Local wrestler Kyle Pedretti (left), working here with training partner Victor Coronado, hopes to make the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Pedretti, now 28, has wrestled since he was in sixth grade. “I want to be the best in the world,” he said.

Local wrestler Pedretti hopes to make 2020 Olympics

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games are just a month in the books, but for athletes around the world, their sights are already set on the next games, four years from now in Tokyo, Japan. Among them is local wrestler Kyle Pedretti.

The sport has been woven into Pedretti’s life since, as a student at Central, he quit basketball in sixth grade to join the wrestling team. A year later, now in the MFL MarMac School District, he finished 2-2 at the AAU State Tournament. In eighth grade, he finished second at AAU State, despite personal hardship.

“My dad passed away between districts and state,” shared Pedretti, now 28. “I was almost not going to wrestle.”

For Pedretti, it was the first of many moments of “perseverance” in his career. The word is now tattooed on his body and is part of the name “Perseverance Wrestling Club,” through which he coaches area youth wrestlers.

In high school, Pedretti’s success continued. As a freshman, he finished third at state, then second a year later. State titles capped off both his junior and senior seasons, the latter coming against the defending state champion at 125 pounds.

Following high school, Pedretti wrestled at Upper Iowa University for five years, red shirting his first year. He qualified for the NCAA Division II Championships as a red shirt freshman, then returned as a sophomore, placing third. As a junior, Pedretti maintained a number-one ranking throughout the season. Although torn rib cartilage hindered him as nationals approached, Pedretti again persevered, ultimately finishing sixth in his bid for a title.

Pedretti’s final year at Upper Iowa was cut short when he failed a drug test for THC (marijuana) and was suspended, leaving him unable to qualify for the tournament.

Pedretti said this quest to become an Olympic champion offers an opportunity to reach his full potential and redeem himself for his college years, when, he admitted, he spent too much time partying and cutting weight the wrong way.

“I gained weight and had to cut it really quick,” he explained. “I would go from 125 to 140, then back down on a weekly basis.”

“That’s why I’m doing this,” Pedretti conceded. “Whether I succeed or fall short, I’m righting the wrongs I did in college.”

Pedretti said going to the Olympics is something he’s always wanted to do, but feared his connections weren’t strong enough to make it happen.

“I thought you needed to wrestle for the Hawkeyes and have connections to a big club,” he noted.

However, over the summer, thanks to advice from Mike Mena—a four-time All-American at Iowa and three-time U.S. freestyle team member—Pedretti realized his dream could still come true, even after time away from the mat.

“He helped me realize I can balance a full-time job, coaching, home life and training to get back on the mat,” he said, “so I found the coaching and training partners I needed.”

Five to seven days each week, Pedretti wrestles one-on-one with training partners Victor Coronado, Drew Van
Anrooy or Seth Olson. In addition to training with Pedretti, Coronado, a fellow Upper Iowa wrestler, will travel with him and coach in his corner at tournaments.

Training with several guys who are different sizes and offer different looks and skill sets is an asset, Pedretti said.

“The more variety, the better you can be. Each opponent will be different,” he explained.

In addition to practicing, Pedretti runs two to three days per week and mountain bikes two to three days, as well.

Pedretti said he’s also focusing on weightlifting, an aspect of training he admitted he didn’t consider as important earlier in his career. He does that four or five days each week, following a routine developed by the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club.

Diet and nutrition are key, as well, Pedretti said. For 15 years, he drank several energy drinks or sodas each day.

“I’ve cut that out completely,” he mentioned.

He’s concentrating on eating a healthier, more balanced diet that will help him pack on muscle. Rather than eating three bigger meals each day, Pedretti said he eats five or six smaller meals instead.

Mindset plays a part, too.

“I need to stay motivated and stay disciplined,” Pedretti stated, “and compete in the major tournaments where the guys I have to beat are going to be.”

Pedretti said his short-term goal is to finish in the top eight at the 2017 U.S. Open, which would allow him to wrestle at the 2017 World Trials. His first tournament will be the Sunkist Kids International Open in Arizona in a couple months.

Four years from now, “I want to be the best in the world,” he said. “I want to right the wrongs for my own inner peace. Who knows what doors might open for the future.”

If his experience can positively influence the young wrestlers he coaches, Pedretti will be thrilled, as well.

“I hope the kids will be inspired and motivated to work harder and pursue their goals,” he remarked.

Help Kyle get to Tokyo

Pedretti has created a Go Fund Me page to help offset training and travel costs. On the site, search for his name or “My Quest for a 2020 Olympic Title” to find it. Two upcoming fundraisers are also planned. The first will be a two-day wrestling camp on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2, at Old School Rec in Luana, where Pedretti does much of his training. The second will be a fish fry at MJ’s Bar and Grill in Monona from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8. For more information, find “Perseverance Wrestling Club” on Facebook.

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