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Pinnacle High School senior Luke Padwe capped a perfect wrestling season with a state championship win in mid-February, and he and his father (an assistant coach of the team) were subsequently invited to the AZ Preps Live radio show to recount Luke's road to the record books.
Luke took down Mountain Pointe wrestler David Palosika in a 10-0 major decision to capture the Division I - 220 pound state title at the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) Wrestling State Championship at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Luke shattered several Pinnacle single-season and career records by the time it was all said and done. His name is now among the state record books, as well, thanks to pinning opponents 125 times during his career. Read more about Luke's championship win and various records.
As he joined AZ Preps Live on Saturday, Feb. 22, Luke said it was still "surreal" that he's now a state champion.
"I was just trying to have fun out there. I tried to focus my last year – just enjoying it, like trying to remember everything that happens," Luke said. "(The perfect record) came into my head sometimes, but I just tried to push it away as fast as I could – not to worry about it. Just go have fun."
The state champ said the key to his flawless season was spending last summer perfecting his technique and getting ready to face wrestlers who might be 10-12 pounds heavier than he is. It also didn't hurt that he decided to forgo playing football this year to focus solely on wrestling.
Marc Padwe, a longtime and decorated wrestler, not to mention a wrestling coach in various roles, said that he has two older sons that played football and basketball but never "fell in love with wrestling;" meanwhile, Luke began to follow in his father's footsteps starting in fifth grade, without even much of a push toward it.
"We say you've got to be a little crazy to wrestle," Marc said on the radio show, which is broadcast on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "The things that these kids do that nobody sees: This kid running through our neighborhood with a 50-pound bag around his shoulders for training, and working out at crazy hours. Driving across town to meet friends to get extra drilling in.
"The things these kids do to stand on top of the podium or make it to that state tournament – it's not all the stuff you see, and it doesn't just happen in your practice room. They do so much extra that nobody realizes just to get themselves there."
Wrestling is family! Pinnacle Lt.Heavyweight State Champion @LukePadwe24 in studio with his pops, Marc a former Penn State wrestler. Sharing their story of dedication that led to perfect 56-0 season! pic.twitter.com/cHp8DwbzUR— Kevin McCabe (@KevinMcCabeFSAZ) February 22, 2020
Another factor in Luke's perfect season? Marc said that after Luke finished second place in the state tournament last year, Luke wrote "I'm a 2020 Arizona State Champion, Undefeated." The father said his son would see it every day and it kept him motivated.
"He had a goal every year, but that was the one he wrote this year," Marc said. "I know he saw it every time he went in and out of his room and (would) try not to think about it, but he was working hard to get there. It was special to be there with him.
"And it's not just about winning the title, but just the way he did it and the way he carried himself out there – the way other coaches and referees would come up to us and tell me what a great kid he is. That carries on longer than his wrestling career. And being a dad, I'm probably more proud of that stuff than success on the mat."
Luke told AZ Preps Live host Kevin McCabe that he will attend Arizona State University next year, but that he doesn't currently plan to continue his wrestling career there.
Listen to Luke Padwe's full AZ Preps Live interview (the interview spans from minutes 2-15 in the media player on ArizonaSports.com).
Luke Padwe (center) was honored along with Horizon High School's Raphael Masella (Division II - 285 pound state champion) at the March 5, 2020 PVSchools Governing Board meeting.