Pelham’s Soonthornprapuet rarely gets name called, but he’s big contributor


Feb. 22—Apparently, Conor Maslanek’s influence on the Pelham wrestling program went way beyond the numerous wins and titles he amassed for the Pythons over the last four years.

Three years ago, he finally persuaded Patrick Soonthornprapuet to join the numbers-challenged program.

“He (Maslanek) had been after me for a long time and coach Bob (Riddinger) had tried to get me to wrestle, too,” said Soonthornprapuet. “But I had been in gymnastics since fourth grade and liked doing it.”

Moreover, Soonthornprapuet was good at gymnastics. With a specialty on the pommel horse, he won two New England titles and four state titles in five years.

But then the gym where Soonthornprapuet trained, the New England Gymnastics Training Center, closed before his sophomore year, so he was left with a void.

“I didn’t have much to do and I thought my gymnastics skills would be good for wrestling — the flexibility and strength you need,” he said.

That it has been, although you haven’t seen Soonthornprapuet in many headlines over the last few years. Part of the problem, as one might guess, has been the length of his name, which has been known to fluster nearly everyone.

“Most people try to avoid my last name,” said Soonthornprapuet, whose older brother, Peter, wrestled for Pelham as a 2012 graduate. “In gymnastics, when they announced my name, they’d usually mumble it. … Everyone calls me by my nickname, Patchie.”

Moreover, Soonthornprapuet was usually hovering around the .500 mark and it’s tough to get noticed with the team struggling for wins and Maslanek — a New England finalist and the school’s most successful wrestler ever — rightfully getting much of the attention.

But things changed this year. The 126-pound Soonthornprapuet had a fine 8-3 record and was a big reason why the Pythons went over the .500 mark for the first time in years with a final 7-5 record.

Riddinger has no doubt that Soonthornprapurt was a major contributor to the team’s rise in fortune this year.

“He was an incredibly hard worker, always being the first to practices,” said Riddinger. “He mentored the younger teammates, putting in a lot of practice time with them.

“He takes advice well, constantly working on technique, pound for pound one of the strongest kids on the team. I would take a team full of Patricks. He was an easy choice to be a captain and provide leadership for this team.”

For his short career on the mat, Soonthornprapuet entered the postseason with a modest 49-44 record, finishing 50-45. He admits it took him awhile to adjust to the new sport.

“There’s a lot to learn and I came into wrestling thinking that gymnastics had given me good conditioning, but I was wrong,” he said. “Conditioning for wrestling is a lot tougher.”

On the other hand, there are aspects of the two sports that are similar and made Soonthornprapuet appreciate wrestling.

“I like the physicality of it (wrestling), the one against one, the taxing on the body and the discipline of it,” he said.

Although this was undoubtedly his last year on the mat, Soonthornprapuet will continue to transfer that discipline to his studies, which are upper level.

At last check, Soonthornprapuet was ranked ninth in the senior class while sporting a 4.31 GPA. He scored a combined 1,300 in his SATs.

As for the future, Soonthornprapuet plans on studying biology in college, heading to medical school and — after a tour in the army — become a doctor.

When that happens, Soonthornprapuet still probably won’t hear his last name called out much. It’ll probably just be “Doctor.”


About the name

Soonthordnprapuet is a Thai name. Patrick’s father is from Thailand and he met his mother in a refugee camp there. Patrick, older brother Peter and his parents go to Thailand every couple of years to visit relatives.


Meet Patrick Soonthornprapuet

School, grade — Pelham, senior

Sport — Wrestling, also plays lacrosse

Academics — 4.31 GPA, ranked 9th in class; scored 1,300 on SATs

College — Currently weighing top three schools that have accepted him which are the University of Denver, St. Michael’s and University of Vermont

Career goal — Go to medical school, become a doctor


“I would take a team full of Patricks. He was an easy choice to be a captain and provide leadership.”

Pelham coach Bob Riddinger


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