The 197 lb wrestler managed to earn all-conference honors as a freshman, taking seventh at the Big 12 Conference Wrestling Championships. Ultimately, Pentz would go on to earn an at-large bid for the NCAA Championships where he secured an opening-round upset against No. 2 ranked Eric Schultz of Nebraska. Pentz then fell in a major decision to No. 15 ranked Michael Beard of Penn State before topping Army’s JT Brown and eventually getting bounced by Michigan State’s Cameron Caffey.
All-Conference honors and a couple of wins at the NCAA Championships would be a stellar season for any freshman in the country. However, Pentz’s performance was even more impressive considering the fact that he hadn’t wrestled in a competitive match for nearly four years.
In Pentz’s church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it’s recommended that the young men of the congregation spend their first two years after graduating high school on a mission trip if they have the financial means to do so. As a man who places high importance on his faith, Pentz followed suit.
After his two-year mission trip was over, Pentz spent a year working before enrolling at Fresno State, which he originally committed to in 2016. However, shortly after enrolling, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, causing Fresno State to announce its intentions to drop its wrestling program. Pentz spent the rest of the year taking online courses before transferring to NDSU in January 2021 as somewhat of a question mark.
There was never a question that the talent was there. In high school, he captured a state title in the 182-pound class as a senior and the 170-pound class as a junior. He was also the Junior national freestyle runner-up at 170 pounds.
The question going into Pentz’s first season with the herd was whether or not he’d be able to regain his form and make an impact. To the viewer, it seems as though he has, but he may only be scratching the surface.
“I had to go through a lot to get back. I was getting beat up bad in practice. It took me three or four weeks before I was able to start scoring points and getting takedowns in practice. When that started happening, my mindset switched and I knew I was getting back into shape and not as terrible as I thought I was.”
You had a long winding road to NDSU. What convinced you ultimately that this was the right place for you to be?
The whole coaching staff was great. They were really determined in reaching out to a kid like me who hadn’t wrestled in a few years. They were very persistent.
What did you do during the mission trip?
I got to go around with another guy and teach people about the gospel of Jesus Christ. When you attend the church I do, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and you turn 18, you are recommended to serve a two-year mission. I submitted my paperwork in high school and ended up getting called to South Africa.
How did that shape you?
It was one of the greatest experiences that I’ve had in my life, to be able to be by myself, as a young man, and teach people about Jesus Christ. It really helped me to mature.
What sort of things did you do to stay sharp from a wrestling standpoint?
To be honest, I didn’t do a whole lot. During the mission, they set aside 30 minutes of your day to go workout, but I was too lazy to work out most of the time. When I came home from South Africa, I had a year break from everything and I helped out with the high school team, but I mostly just worked during that time as well.
Being 21 years old already when you came into your first full year of college, did you have any issues integrating with the other freshman you’re coming in with?
Yeah, it took me a while to get involved with the team. Especially, with the freshmen. There are some really good guys on the team here though. Things really didn’t take that long and they were really great about reaching out to me.
You’re married, how has that impacted your wrestling career?
I would say that it has helped me a lot. I feel like I have a better support system than a lot of the kids who go through college wrestling that aren’t married. It helps me a lot.
How long did it take for that rust to come off after wrestling for three years?
It took a long time. I would say it’s still coming off. It took me a long time last season to have it come off and I had to get a job this offseason, so, I didn’t have a lot of time to wrestle. I’m always trying to become a better wrestler though. It’s a never-ending journey.
How tough were those first few practices back?
I didn’t even last 10 to 15 minutes drilling takedowns in the first practice before Coach Kish realized I was done. He pulled me off the mat and put me on the treadmill.
I had to go through a lot to get back. I was getting beat up badly in practice. It took me three or four weeks before I was able to start scoring points and getting takedowns in practice. When that started happening, my mindset switched and I knew I was getting back into shape and not as terrible as I thought I was.
You have to be excited for the season, no?
I’m pretty pumped for the day that we have a match. Seeing what I was able to do last year with so little preparation made me pretty proud of myself. I think with the added preparation I have an opportunity to do better.
Is there anything else our readers should know about you?
My wife and I are expecting a child. She’s due in April and we’re very excited about it.