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Nothing has really changed for Tommy Pawelski.
Even though he was scheduled to sign his scholarship papers Wednesday to wrestle at Stanford, the Montini senior and Park Ridge resident will go about this season like all the others.
Pawelski, the defending Class 2A champion at 106 pounds, still will compete like he has something to prove.
"The expectations are always high and have always been there," he said. "This year especially. But I always have the same goal to win the state title.
"It feels like every other year. It's the same grind."
Pawelski figures to jump at least one weight class this season after finishing 42-5 and capturing his first state championship as a junior. The Broncos also won the Class 2A team title, the program's fifth in a row.
"I probably will start out and end at 113, but I might go up to 120 during the season," said Pawelski, whose team opens the season at home Nov. 21.
Once again, Pawelski enjoyed a successful offseason. At the junior nationals in Fargo, N.D., this summer, Pawelski took second at 106 pounds. He also was the runner-up in 2011 at the same weight class.
Pawelski verbally committed to the Cardinal and coach Jason Borrelli before the season started. He chose Stanford over Harvard, Brown and Columbia. Pawelski carries a 4.1 GPA and scored a 28 ACT, so academics played a big part in his decision.
The Cardinal feature 19 underclassmen on its 27-man roster, and Pawelski plans to compete for a spot in the lineup right away. Stanford took third place at the Pac-12 Championships last season, its best finish since the 2007-08 campaign.
"I wanted the best place for me both academically and athletically," he said. "There's plenty to push me there. Plus, being in California is awesome."