West Valley wrestler Paul Pfeifer has come out a winner by losing big.
A year ago, Pfeifer couldn’t make WV’s lineup because he weighed in excess of high school wrestling’s 275-pound limit.
Through sheer determination, he dropped 40 pounds in order to compete as a heavyweight in the league season’s final two matches and in the district tournament.
Pfeifer’s weight loss has continued. From a high of 297 pounds a year ago, he has dropped to less than 190 today.
“For a high school kid to show that discipline in itself is a helluva feat,” said former coach and current athletic director Wayne McKnight. “There’s so much social pressure at that age.”
Pfeifer credits McKnight with providing him the direction.
“He’s just like a dad in high school,” he said. “Wayne really encouraged me all the way and told me about motivation and drive.”
A combination of proper diet, weight lifting and exercise helped Pfeifer make a dramatic physical transformation.
“Seeing it happen slowly drove me to continue,” said Pfeifer.
He played football at 205 pounds before losing 20 more for this year’s wrestling season.
There was even talk of him dropping down to the 178-pound class.
“He kept trying to go to 178 but I wouldn’t let him,” said WV’s new coach Bill Bauman. “He can compete at 190 just fine.”
Pfeifer’s body fat has been measured at 11.8 percent, but he still needs to tone skin hanging loose from the weight loss.
The Eagle wrestler, whose brothers attended East Valley High School before the family moved to California when he was in elementary school, went through a tumultous period in his life after his return.
After his freshman year at West Valley, he said he briefly attended University High as a sophomore and the Valley’s contract-based school before sitting out the remainder of the year.
“When I dropped out of school, I don’t know, I just got fat,” he said. “I was just stupid. I didn’t like contract-based, screwed up and gained weight.”
Motivated to wrestle after re-enrolling at West Valley, he now has his sights set on going to state.
He credits Bauman with improving his wrestling ability.
“He’s taught me more moves,” said Pfeifer. “Last year at heavyweight you didn’t need to know any. You just laid on top. And I’m in a lot better shape.”
Wrestling wasn’t the only reason to lose the pounds. He realized that being overweight wasn’t healthy. Pfeifer, whose brother in California is a body builder, wants to become a fitness trainer.
As someone whose pant size has gone from a 44 waist to a 34, Paul Pfeifer could teach by example.