A veteran in the sport of life

Senior Adam Pena had dedicated his life to wrestling, and does not plan on stopping.


Matt O'Connell

Adam Pena in the middle of a wrestling match.

By Matt O'Connell

As the screaming crowd settles, the score resets, and the nerves begin, senior Adam Pena gets to work. After shaking his opponent’s hand, an analysis of movement that has been embedded into his head for years begins. Recognizing shot set-ups, fakes, and hand placement is just a piece of the puzzle. Pena has been wrestling since the age of 7 and continues to show up day in and day out.

Wrestling has been a part of Pena’s family for generations. His dad, Ray, was a Greco-Roman world team member in 1989 and started his own wrestling club, “Team Pena”. His brother, Alex, is a 2 time Fargo Nationals qualifier, and one of the most productive wrestlers in Huntley history. Adam takes after his family, becoming an I.E.S.A. state qualifier, and placing 5th in his last season at Marlowe Middle School. “Wrestling has been in my blood forever. My dad, brother, sister, and mom have pushed me to become the best. With the success my family has had over the years, I don’t want the legacy to stop with me,” Pena said.

Wrestling as a freshman was a tough challenge, but Pena was ready for it. The weight cuts, morning practices, early tournaments, and high-pressure matches were nothing new for him. Taking two years away from the sport due to COVID-19 had a massive impact on his hunger for the sport. “It made me miss wrestling, what I love the most. I just wanted to work hard, come back, and become who I know I am. Quarantine made me forget who I was, and wrestling brought me back,” Pena said.

As a junior, Pena started on varsity once again, amassing a record of 30-14. After being a regional champion, he fell in the I.H.S.A. sectional. This put a chip on his shoulder, and Pena knew that he had to work to reach his goal of becoming a state-place winner. Hungrier than ever, Pena put his head down and worked in the offseason, and it has clearly paid off. “I think lifting has really helped me out, it has helped me gain really good strength, and technique mixed with my strength is a really good combination to have,” Pena said.

Hitting the gym every day and staying around his weight class in the offseason allowed Pena to stay in mid-season shape all year. Pena floated from the 120-pound weight class to the 126-pound weight class. This proved to be the best move Pena would ever make, as he continues to dominate the 126 class. Currently, Pena is undefeated in the conference, and has a record of 24-9. “This season, I feel I’ve become the most prepared, and I’m hungry to be at the top. This team’s individuality and desire to be great has pushed me a lot,” Pena said.

Wrestling has given Pena a lot of perspective on life through tough opponents, mental challenges, and physical fatigue. Throughout his life, the sport has pushed him past his limit, making him the best version of himself. “Wrestling has really developed into a lifestyle. It has taught me what it means to work hard, and a laundry list of life skills that will stick with me forever,” Pena said.

As the season progresses, Pena progresses too. A team of young talent has given him a second wind, combining hard work with a killer mentality. His last season of wrestling has been the most productive, and Pena’s goal of being a state-place winner draws closer and closer. Top 5 tournament placements, high seeds, and authority over his weight class is just another day in the office for Adam Pena.