To be determined, to desire, and to recognize one's own abilities is mandatory in success. But, to be content with your natural abilities can only get you so far. Challenging yourself physically and mentally is what distinguishes the great from the commonplace.
For a senior at Triton Regional High School, nothing can be further from the truth.
Zach Welch is a two-sport captain in football and wrestling. As an inside linebacker, he was the lone Triton football player to earn All-Cape Ann League honors, he was last December's Moynihan Lumber student-athlete of the month, and he was also a Daily News All-Star.
As for his current wrestling season, Welch is 26-3 at 160 pounds. The trio of defeats were all tough losses Welch remembers vividly, "I can't take anything away from those guys, but in retrospect, I should've won."
In addition to his domineering record, he placed first in the Marlboro Invitational for the second consecutive year.
His impressive athletic career aside, Welch has a 3.93 grade-point average, which ranks 21st in a class of 218, and his combined SAT score is 1340 (640 in math, 700 in verbal).
Welch's football and wrestling coach is Shawn McElligott, a friend and advisor since Welch was in the 7th grade.
"I've known Zach for six years. His sister Courtney was in one of my classes and she asked me if he could participate in some intramural wrestling," said McElligott. "I've had the pleasure of being a friend of the family for a while."
While some student athletes stroll through their high school careers, McElligott can attest to Welch's fortitude.
"Zach's success isn't like it just happened. He's worked for it all four years," states McElligott. "He's the hardest worker everyday, and he leads as an example everyday. I've coached plenty of talent, but his work ethic is right at the top. He's a consummate leader."
Trying his best at whatever he does is probably the one thing that comes naturally to Welch.
"Not to sound generic, but it stems from my parents," affirms Welch. "They taught me to try my hardest in every aspect. And coach Mac only reinforces that."
As far as motivation, whether it be on the mat, the field, or in Call of Duty 4, being on the losing side is as bad as it gets for Welch.
"Honestly, that's why I compete," said Welch. "To succeed in everything I do. I hate failure."
Those sentiments rang true last night as Welch collected his 26th win of the season, pinning his opponent in the first period. Despite Welch's individual efforts, the Vikings (8-9-1) fell short for the first time in five meets, narrowly succumbing to the visiting North Reading Hornets.
Coach McElligott was still proud of his team.
"Zach wrestled well, so did Ryan Slepoy (pin, 215), Danny Chandler (pin, 112), Mike Doherty (pin, 135) and Tim Hudon (pin, 152). I'm really happy with my freshmen and sophomores," explains McElligott. "They wrestled some of their upper classmen, and they did their jobs. They didn't give up pins. They stayed in there and they gave us a shot in the end."
Welch knows that with every defeat, a lesson is learned.
"We all tried our best," said Welch. "That's what we do as a team."
Looking back on his career as a Triton Viking, Welch is very content with all he's achieved.
"I'm proud with what I've accomplished, but I'm humble. Keeping my grades while competing is probably what gives me the most satisfaction," reflects Welch, who even during his more difficult years and games, can look back and smile at the ones that shone the brightest."
"The triple overtime game against Pentucket my junior year was something I'll always remember," gleamed Welch of the win that ended an eight-game Thanksgiving day losing streak. "Everyone rushed the field. It was awesome."
With such a full slate of school and sports as well as working at the Rusnik Campground in the summer and volunteering at a food pantry in Salisbury - taking it easy with his friends is a welcome endeavor.
"You have to make time for your friends," said Welch. "Spending time with them keeps everything in check."
From modest beginnings in youth soccer to short-lived stints playing lacrosse and running track - the college bound Welch is looking towards the future.
"I'm planning on a double major in biology (his favorite class at Triton was AP biology) and business," states Welch. "It does, however, mean that I won't be playing any NCAA sports. But, I'm sure I'll find time to join an intramural rugby or wrestling team."
When asked about other future hobbies, Welch stated his adoration for mixed martial arts and his interest in picking up boxing or jiujitsu.
"It really interests me, especially watching athletes like Fedor Emilianenko," explains Welch. "But, I know how my mom feels about it. So I'll probably just stick to the branching styles."
Whichever university is lucky enough to nab Welch - be it Boston College, St. Anselm's, University of Vermont, UConn, or UMass Amherst - it's clear they will be harboring an individual who knows what he wants and how he needs to achieve it.
The Viking's last meet is next Wednesday, January 30th versus the Pentucket Sachems at 6:30 p.m.