Saint John's Magazine Winter/Spring 2012

Page 36

Johnnie Sports

All-American wrestler Matt Pfarr ’12

Matt Pfarr ’12: Farmer, Wrestler, Biologist By John Taylor ’58 “Wrestling and farming are intermeshed in my family life,” says Matt Pfarr ’12, a four-year member of the SJU wrestling squad at 174 pounds. “Many years ago we converted Dad’s mechanic shop into a wrestling dojo complete with exercise equipment, weights, sauna and full-size wrestling mat. After a full day working together on farm projects, we’d invite anyone from the community out to the shop who is interested in athletic development.” Pfarr was a Minnesota state champion at 160 pounds as a senior at Le Sueur-Henderson High School in Le Sueur, Minn. He also earned the top Academic All-State award from The Guillotine, a publication for the Minnesota amateur wrestling community. Pfarr received a number of DIII looks, but a visit to Saint John’s sealed his decision. “I met with Dr. Rodell of the biology department, took in a Johnnie football game and ran along Lake Sagatagan to the Stella Maris Chapel on a picturesque fall day. At the refectory, I experienced the traditional recruit dinner of a waffle covered in ice cream and all the fixings possible. I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else.” A biology major and chemistry minor, he describes himself as a “green thumb, from God’s country.” It isn’t hard to figure out why he wants to go on to graduate school in genetic counseling. His dad is an agronomist with


Pioneer Seed and a fifth-generation farmer, with a master’s in plant breeding and cyto-genetics from Iowa State. His mom is a registered nurse. An All-American at 174 pounds as a junior, he also received Academic All-American status as a sophomore and junior. “Wrestling has really added to my college experience. It’s taught me focus, personal development and a deep appreciation for what I should expect from myself.” Pfarr singles out biology professors Michael Reagan and Barb May as particularly helpful in the development of his scholarship. “The practical experience with current genetic techniques gained through their instruction has been instrumental in my education.” Additionally, Noreen Herzfeld, Nicholas and Bernice Reuter Professor in the Integration of Science and Theology, has helped him appreciate the power that genetics research has given us. “As scientific research extends the boundaries of our capabilities, we will decide exactly what constitutes an acceptable change to our most basic, genetic level,” he comments. “I feel solidly grounded to take part in this discussion, aided by my four years at Saint John’s.” John Taylor ’58 is senior associate for institutional advancement at Saint John’s.