Paynter girl fearless competitor on the mats
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Maleah Pacella is only 8 years old, but she quickly is gaining a reputation as a fierce competitor on wrestling mats across the area.
Maleah, of Baldwin, has a 12-1 record in the Keystone League, competing against mainly male opponents.
The Paynter Elementary School third-grader is making a name for herself against girls as well. Maleah recently competed in the New Jersey state girls' wrestling championship, capturing second place in her weight class.
This is Maleah's second year of wrestling. She came home from school last year with a signup sheet, announcing to her father, Vince, that she wanted to wrestle.
“I told her it wasn't the same as the wrestling she sees on TV. But when we got to the first practice, she still asked where the ropes were,” Vince said.
According to her dad, Maleah stayed for that first practice, and never has looked back. He says she loves wrestling, and excels at it.
Maleah is the only female member of the Baldwin youth wrestling team, and conditions three times a week along with all the boys on the team.
Jon Banko has been coaching the Baldwin youth wrestling team for four years. Prior to that, he coached at Southmoreland High School.
Banko, a Baldwin resident, has coached several girls over the years and says he treats all of his wrestlers the same, regardless of gender.
Maleah Pacella definitely has potential on the mats, according to Banko.
“She's aggressive and athletic. For a young wrestler, she's very good,” he said.
Banko said Maleah is very coachable, and picks up on techniques easily, which is a good sign she will continue to do well in the sport.
Athletics runs in the Pacella family.
Vince Pacella, a 1995 Baldwin High School graduate, wrestled for the Highlanders. And Maleah's mom, Jennifer (Hoffman) Pacella, is a 1993 Baldwin grad who spent three years playing strong safety for the Pittsburgh Passion professional women's football team.
Vince is optimistic his daughter will be able to wrestle her way to a college scholarship if she chooses to stick with it.
“There's absolutely a future in girls' wrestling. She's going to have to wrestle boys in the WPIAL, but the sport is growing more popular for girls in other areas,” he said. “She's a little fireplug. She puts 120 percent into any sport she plays.”
At the recent New Jersey state wrestling championship, there were almost 200 girls registered.
Maleah went 4-1 in the tournament, pinning two of her opponents before losing in the championship match to a girl two years older, and nine pounds heavier.
Vince met numerous people active in girls' wrestling who were excited about Maleah's performance at the New Jersey tournament. They expressed enthusiasm for Maleah's talent, and hoped to see her at future girls' tournaments.
Maleah, who played shortstop in the Greater Baldwin-Whitehall Athletic Association last summer, currently is preparing for the girls' state wrestling championships to be held in early March.
Her 6-year-old brother and fellow wrestling teammate, Cenzo, along with their two older sisters Maddie, 15, and Mariah, 14, no doubt will be cheering for Maleah from the stands.
Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: At start, are Pens already finished?
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger still hurting after hard hit from Ravens’ Upshaw
- City of Pittsburgh detective, 2 boys finalize adoption before judge
- Morton, Pirates blank Red Sox in series opener
- Identical twins born at West Penn Hospital a rare medical marvel
- Steelers notebook: RT Gilbert not in danger of losing his job
- Penguins notebook: Martin not concerned about expiring contract
- Western Pa. colleges to emphasize curricula for energy, industrial fields
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle quiet on rotation plans
- Shoop’s preparation, expertise trickles down to Penn State defense
- Mylan CEO Bresch sets sights on growth