Six years old may sound like a young age to begin the sport of wrestling, but Riley Paterson’s exposure to the sport through an Arizona youth program is what gave him the foundation and the desire to improve his skills.
“We were just little kids messing around, but that’s where I really started and got the experience as a young kid,” says Paterson.
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The Servite High School senior continued to work hard and turned that early inspiration into a 1st team All-Trinity League selection in 2015. Motivated by the one-on-one battles that make up the sport, Paterson knows that wrestlers can never rest on their laurels.
“I really enjoy wrestling because it’s just you and the other person on the mat,” says Paterson. “You can’t get too confident with yourself because there’s always somebody out there who’s better than you and training harder than you.”
Competing in the 170-pound weight class, the 17-year-old admits that the most challenging aspect of the sport is maintaining the correct weight.
“I think the toughest thing about wrestling is making weight,” says Paterson. “You overcome it through your faith, actually. You suffer, and you have to get through it.”
In his second year on varsity, Paterson is aiming this season to place at the CIF State Meet while also hoping to lead the Friars to their third consecutive CIF-SS Championship.
“Riley is an extremely hardworking and dedicated young man who has managed to excel in every aspect of his life,” says Alan Clinton, Servite wrestling head coach. “He strives to be the best in everything he does whether it’s on the mat, in the classroom or at work.”
In his final year competing for the Friars, Paterson knows this tight-knit group of teammates will be hard to replace.
“I’m really going to miss the brotherhood that we have at our school, especially through wrestling,” he says. “We suffer together and we succeed together.”
Away from the mat, Paterson is involved in the school’s student-led business venture, Trinity Corporation, where his efforts as the campus kitchen manager help provide financial aid for his Servite brothers. Additionally, he has a part-time job and works with special-needs children at his church.
The Irvine resident is looking to study aeronautics on his way to becoming a pilot, and would love to continue wrestling at the collegiate level. His faith plays a significant role in his life. It’s something he leans on along with the guidance of his siblings and teammates to navigate the ups and downs of such an intense sport.
“Wrestling has really formed my character,” says Paterson. “It keeps you humble about everything. It makes you work hard. Nothing in life is going to come easy, and you have to work hard for everything you’re going to get.”