Pedeferri reflects on 'dream' season

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DUVALL - The toughest thing Cedarcrest High School sophomore Aaron Pedeferri has learned about wrestling is to set goals.

"Last year I was told to set a goal, and it was to place at state," Pedeferri said. "This year I was told to set it even higher, and now I know to set it higher."

His lessons have paid off.

"I realized that as I got closer and closer [to the state meet], it was to win," Pedeferri said of this year's goal. He won the Washington state 3A 112-pound wrestling title in March and things haven't been the same since.

What does it feel like to be a state champion while only a sophomore?

"It's kind of hard to believe," Pedeferri said. "My dad and brother got second at state as seniors, so it's kind of like, 'Is this really happening? When am I going to wake up?'"

Waking up may not be the toughest thing he'll have to do, though.

He leaves for a Washington State Cultural Exchange trip to Japan on June 19, where he will stay with a handful of host families. There he will wrestle in six separate matches against students from Japan. Other Washington state wrestlers who were chosen by their coaches will also be making the trip.

He is excited for the opportunity and plans to do some sightseeing while he is there.

"My brother did the same thing, except he went to Bulgaria and Italy," Pedeferri said.

Next year brings new goals for the grappler. Pedeferri may go up a weight class to wrestle at 119, and that may bring with it additional challenges.

"I'm going to be a big target. Everyone's reaching for me," he said.

Not that his freshman effort of sixth place at state was any easier than this year's first place. But he also will go into the season next year as a reigning state champion, and that title could prove tough to defend.

"Last year I didn't have anything to lose, this year I have everything to lose," he said.

Before he goes to Japan, Pedeferri will have a chance to meet some of the other athletes who will be making the trip from Washington this weekend in Monroe.

When he gets back on the Fourth of July, he plans to spend some time at his family's cabin, then attend a wrestling camp in Flathead, Mont., where one of his former coaches lives.

After that, his time will be filled looking for a summer job and hopefully working, which may help him wake up from his state-championship dream.

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