Grand Valley female wrestler pursuing Olympic aspirations
She climbed trees when she was little and playfully fought her two younger brothers.
It was only natural for Cody Pfau to wrestle.
She wanted to try it the day she watched others wrestling.
“We gave her the option of doing it,” her father, Doug Pfau, said. “She took to it. She did well from the start. She won three of the first six tournaments she was in.
“She considers herself a wrestler. It ticks her off when someone looks at her as just a girl.”
Cody does all the things girls do; she just wrestles, too.
“She’s extremely driven, very conscientious about doing things right and following the rules,” Cody’s mother, Meg Pfau said. “She’s always wanted to do what everybody else was doing. If they could do it, she wanted to do it better.”
Now, she not only fits in with the other wrestlers, she’s earned their respect.
“It’s kind of funny. When we go to tournaments, the boys follow her around,” Meg said. “It’s scary how many guys are interested. It’s weird, every time she wrestles a boy she hasn’t wrestled before and she beats him, that guy has her phone number and is texting her immediately. She’s been Facebooking with all the top wrestlers in the states around here. She’s part of the buddy group.”
The 17-year-old ASICS Girls High School All-American made the U.S. Women’s National Cadet team (ages 14–17) and is competing in the Canada Cup this weekend in Guelph, Canada. She’ll return home for a short break, then is off to Maracaibo, Venezuela, from July 11–15 to compete for the U.S. in the Pan-Am Championships.
“I don’t know what to expect,” Cody said matter-of-factly. “I didn’t think about (these accomplishments); I just wrestled.”
U.S. Women’s Cadet coach Erin Tomeo has worked with Pfau at the U.S. Olympic Training Center the past three years and said Pfau has proven she’s tough enough to succeed.
“It’s definitely the next level, but she’s ready to make that step,” Tomeo said. “She continues to improve. She has all the tools, but it’s more of a fight, and she has it in her.
“It should be an easy transition. The styles resemble each other.”
Cody qualified for the U.S. Women’s Cadet team after placing second in the Body Bar U.S. Women’s National Championships in May.
“I went the year before and got third,” Cody said. “I knew I could beat the girl that got first, and I did in the next tournament in Fargo (N.D.), but my goal was first.”
She’s planning to wrestle individually in the ASICS/Vaughan Junior Girls National Championships July 16–18 in Fargo, N.D.
She’s placed third in her first Junior Nationals in 2010. She won the 101-pound national title last year.
“I don’t know if we had a concept of how good she could be until Fargo,” Doug Pfau said.
Cody’s parents, who both work in education, moved to De Beque in 2006 when she was in middle school.
That’s when Grand Valley High School wrestling coach Rick Gallegos met her.
Gallegos has coached a girl wrestler before, but he could tell Pfau was special.
“She’s a stingy wrestler,” Gallegos said. “She doesn’t give anything up. There was a particular situation she got in at Palisade with a Paonia kid. She was winning the match and was in a cradle. If she gives up any back points, she loses the match. She actually put her arm out so she wouldn’t get turned. She was willing to break her arm rather than get turned and lose the match.
“She’s not going to bail out on her feet. That’s the fight in her. Guys don’t want to be on bottom with her on top because she can ride the legs, she can tilt, she can cradle. She learns all aspects. There isn’t one part of her game, if you defend that she’s done.”
The family moved to Meeker during her freshman year of high school.
Cody not only made the varsity team at 103 pounds, she qualified for the Class 2A State Championships, and she and Soroco’s Lauryn Bruggick became the first girls to win a match at state.
The Pfau family moved to Parachute the next summer and found a little more competition at the bigger school.
“The first week of practice she started crying,” Gallegos said. “I was, ‘Oh! I better take it easy on her.’ It got to be routine. The whole time we’d practice, she’s wiping tears and giving me the dirty-dirties (looks). I don’t know if she didn’t want to let me down or what it was. If she didn’t cry, I’d go up to her and comment, ‘It must have been an easy practice; we didn’t get any waterworks today.’ She’d just smile.”
Gallegos realized her tears weren’t because she was hurt, but because she was determined to accomplish the task.
“When someone sees the tears coming and is taking it easy on her, I’ll stop the whole room,” Gallegos said. “This isn’t going to happen on Saturday. When someone sees her breaking on Saturday, that’s when they’re going to turn on the burners and smash her all over the mat. It gets pretty intense. It fires her up.
“Even when she’s tearing up, she gets after it. Guys are looking at me like, ‘I’m not going to punch a girl, but she’s pushing it.’ She knows it’s a green light to play. She’s one of the wrestlers.”
Pfau made the varsity team at Parachute as a sophomore but didn’t qualify for state. She didn’t quit; she became hungrier to get better.
Last winter, Pfau wrestled at 106 pounds and took third in the regional to qualify for state at 106 pounds. She had to beat a wrestler who injured her a week before regionals.
“She got in a bad position,” Gallegos said. “Out of that stubbornness, she wasn’t going to go. She was in a position, if she didn’t go, she was going to wreck her back. She didn’t go, and she wrecked her back.”
Pfau was crying after the match, but not from the pain of the injury. Rather, she feared the trainer’s response when she asked if she would be able to wrestle at regionals.
“The trainer said, ‘No. You sprained your back. You’ve got to take it easy,’ ” Gallegos said. “She gets cleared for regionals and faces the same kid that wrecked her back for third and fourth. She pins him in the second period after she was up 5-0 and dominating.”
Pfau went 0-2 at state, but she’s not letting go of her hopes and dreams. She wants to be the first girl in the history of Colorado High School wrestling to place at state, but she doesn’t want to stop there.
Cody, who is a candidate for valedictorian with a 4.15 GPA at Grand Valley, is hearing from several colleges with women’s wrestling programs, including Oklahoma City University, which won the past four Women’s College Wrestling Association national titles.
The Summer Olympics will be on the radar in 2016.
“I’ll get there when I get there,” Cody said. “That’s four years away. It’d be nice, but I’ve got to take it one tournament at a time. You can’t put your eyes up there. You won’t concentrate on the next thing.”