WESTFORD — Andrew Piedrahita is a wrestler on the go this summer.
Westford Academy’s rising senior standout is busy refining his mat skills in hopes of seizing the moment, as if it were the limb of an unsuspecting opponent, once the high school season begins in December.
A three-time Dual County League all-star, Piedrahita has competed in the New England Spring Duals, winning four of five matches, and the Virginia Beach Duals, where he notched three victories, in recent months.
Piedrahita, 17, who had an impressive overall record of 44-8 at 152 pounds for the Grey Ghosts last winter, wrestled in the Bay State Games last weekend at UMass Boston.
“The Bay State Games is a good place to see your growth and see how other wrestlers have grown since the end of the high school season,” said Piedrahita. “It’s going to be exciting to see where I’m at after putting in the all the work and practice I’ve done this off-season.”
Piedrahita plans on wrestling at 160 pounds at the Bay State Games. He works out daily while also training at the Doughboy Wrestling Club in Lowell three days a week.
“Wrestling appeals to me because of the level of commitment it takes to succeed,” said Piedrahita. “The more committed to the sport you are, the more success you generally experience. That’s not always the case, but for the most part it is. If you are committed to wrestling year-round, and do all the summer practices and work, it will definitely show during the season.”
Piedrahita was at his best at the big year-end tournaments during a breakout junior campaign. He was a Division 1 North Sectional champion, placed third at the Division 1 State Tournament and finished sixth at the All-State Tournament.
“You always want your kids to peak in the postseason tournaments and he definitely did,” said Westford head coach Bruce Rich Jr. “He was in a tough weight class. For him to take sixth at All-States was pretty impressive.”
At 6-foot-1, Piedrahita, who was a Grey Ghost co-captain last season, relies on his tall, lanky physique and athleticism to outmaneuver foes who are often physically stronger.
“I know going into a lot of matches strength isn’t going to be one of my strengths,” said Piedrahita. “So it’s definitely all about technique for me. I don’t go out there and try to overpower a guy. I really concentrate on my moves. I try and put the guys I’m wrestling in vulnerable positions where I can score points and pin them. When I turn them I definitely go for the pin.”
Piedrahita is an excellent closer when it comes to pinning down victories. Half of his wins last winter were by pin. A swirl of movement on the mat, Piedrahita is a master counter-attacker whose slight of hand magic breaks down the most aggressive of foes.
“He has real good balance,” said Rich. “He always knows where he is on the mat. He knows how to use his opponent’s strength against him.
“He’s kind of a funky wrestler on his feet. He’s a reactive wrestler. If you shoot-in on him he’s going to scramble with you and he’s generally going to score. Sometimes he does these moves that you don’t know where he comes up with. Once he gets on top he’s going to turn you.”
Piedrahita is quick to credit the important roles his parents, Jill and Farben, have played during his steady rise up the victory stand.
He is determined to build off last season’s success.
Piedrahita is scheduled to compete in the prestigious 1000 Island Summer Duals, Aug. 4-6 in Clayton, N.Y.
After his trip to New York, Piedrahita will focus all his attention on the start of Grey Ghosts’ football season. Piedrahita plays cornerback and running back.
Piedrahita has been in contact with the wrestling coaches at Western New England, Castleton and Springfield College.
“He’s a great kid,” said Rich. “I think he can definitely wrestle at the Division 3 (college) level. He can go to any of those schools and fit right in with those guys.”