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Petrella Family Comes Full Circle at Baldwin Wallace

Paul, Tony, Michael, Kevin, Joey and Vincent Petrella
Paul, Tony, Michael, Kevin, Joey and Vincent Petrella

By:  Director of Athletic Communications & Public Relations Kevin Ruple

BEREA, Ohio -- When Michael Petrella '24 steps on campus in August with his father, Paul '79, and stepmother, Barbara, the Petrella family will have come full circle. And, after fathering, teaching, coaching and preparing five of his six children to wrestle, Michael is coming to his father's alma mater to join Baldwin Wallace and Jamie Gibb's championship Yellow Jacket wrestling program. 

The Petrella's Are Known for Excellence in Wrestling
"The Petrella Family is known throughout Ohio for its excellence," said Gibbs. "No matter who you ask in Ohio and throughout the Midwest who is influential in the sport of wrestling, they know the name, they know Paul and they know the family and its success.

"Michael is an extremely solid young man in the classroom first and a competitor on the mat," continued Gibbs. "We welcome him to Baldwin Wallace, and we look forward to having Paul and Barb back on campus a bit more often."

BW Also is Known for its Tradition of Excellence
The BW wrestling program is known for its excellence and has won four of the past five Ohio Athletic Conference championships and a year ago won its second NCAA Division III Central Region title in the past three years.  

Paul Petrella also is glad Michael chose his alma mater.

"Michael will be just fine," said Petrella. "He'll make his own way [referring to Michael not being intimidated that his father attended BW].

"We [Paul and Barbara] are very excited for him to attended BW," continued Petrella. "We've been coming to BW for a number of years during the summers and he has established a great relationship with Coach Gibbs. We enjoy being around the BW program. It exudes class in every way."

Paul Petrella Was a BW Legend
"Paul was the ultimate team player," said BW great Pat George '77 and Hall of Fame inductee in '99. "He was a selfless player and team leader. Whether it was in football or wrestling, he led by example. You wanted a whole team of Paul Petrella's."

As an undergraduate, Paul Petrella had a great 1978!  First, he won the OAC title and then the NCAA Division III national title at 177 pounds in wrestling. That fall, he started on BW's Div. III football national championship team. He is regarded as one of the best to ever step on the Berea campus. He graduated as the Outstanding Senior Male Athlete and 

"Paul Petrella was the real deal," said BW legend Mark Summers '75 and Hall of Fame Class of '92 and echoed by Larry Hoon '70 and Hall of Fame Class of 83. "He set the standard."

Michael Has Already Made His Own Way
Michael, who plans to major in business and marketing, comes to BW as one of a pair of twins and the final of two of five of Paul's wrestling sons who all had stellar high school careers at Columbus Bishop Hartley High School. Michael's twin brother, Joey, will go to Gannon (Pa.) University where older brother Tony attended. The twins wrestled at Hartley for older brother Kevin, now in his 11th season as head coach, and assisted by none other than father Paul, who was the head coach at Hartley twice (from 1999-2003 and 2006-2009). The sixth child is daughter Kristin.

Michael, who like many other winter sport high school seniors had their senior seasons cut short, and in his case his dream of winning an OHSAA state title, ended his career with an outstanding 167-29 career record, including an excellent, 40-2 record at either 120 or 126 pounds this season. After placing at the District Tournament as a freshman, Michael placed seventh at the OHSAA State Tournament as a sophomore and junior.

He was a three-four sport athlete in high school, playing football as a freshman and then switching to cross country, wrestling and running track.

"Michael is exciting and fun to watch," said Petrella. "He's athletic, always in the match. He also can drive me crazy at times too!  He's a special gift."

Paul's Success at BW and His Career in Teaching, Coaching and Leadership
Paul, who owned a 68-12 wrestling mark at BW and still ranks 36th all-time in career victories and was the 1978 ABC Chevrolet NCAA Division III Football National Championship Game Most Valuable Defensive Player of the Game, recently retired from a 40-year high school teaching and coaching career.  

He taught high school math but still intends to help his eldest son, Kevin, as an assistant wrestling coach at Columbus Bishop Hartley High School where the team has won seven straight Columbus Catholic League titles.

"I retired at the end of this school year," said Petrella, "but I don't intend to quit coaching quite yet. We also will be doing some traveling to watch Michael and Joey compete." With a chuckle, Petrella said, "But I'm not looking forward to those long trips to Erie (Pennsylvania to Gannon University) across I-90 [referring to the winter snows in the snow belt in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania]!" 

Petrella Attributes His Success to His BW Mentors
"I had wonderful coaches at Baldwin Wallace who shaped the person, coach and teacher I am today. Guys like Tressel [Head Coach and Hall of Famer Lee Tressel '49] and Van Dusen [Defensive Line Coach and Hall of Famer Larry Van Dusen] in football and Billy and Jerry Miller '72 and Summa [Head Coach and Hall of Famer John Summa] in wrestling," said Petrella.

"Coach Tressel asked me to move from offense to defense as a freshman, and then as a sophomore, from linebacker to tackle," said Petrella. "My sophomore year was Coach Van Dusen's first year back at BW, so everyone got an opportunity and I was able to make the most of it.

"In wrestling, Coach Summa let the Miller brothers work with me and they took me to a new level," said Petrella. 

"When I wrestled at BW, the wrestling program was the best in the Ohio Athletic Conference and Coach Summa had us among the best in the Midwest.

"All I can tell you is that my BW experience was just exceptional, and I hope Michael has that same experience!"