SAN MARCOS – The top collegiate wrestling teams in the state gathered for one of the most anticipated events of the year: The Santa Ana Tournament.
Palomar’s wrestling team is riding high after taking first place in the Santa Ana Tournament on Oct. 1. They placed first out of 24 teams and finished 20 points higher than the second place team.
Brody Barrios is entering his sixth season as the Comets head coach for the wrestling team.
“I thought we performed well,” said Barrios. “They wrestled with confidence. The maturity really showed.”
Barrios praised his team for the confidence they displayed throughout the tournament, but admitted he wasn’t aware of how strong his squad would be. He mentioned that, last year, some of his top performers were either redshirting or returning from a stint in the Marine Corps.
The 174-pounder Braulio Banuelos is a freshman who is currently undefeated thus far in 2016. Banuelos, 22, has six pins in eight matches and finished first overall in this particular tournament. Impressive, considering he hasn’t wrestled since he was a Senior at Poway High School. Banuelos has spent the last four years in the Marine Corps and now sets his sights on dominating every match he can on the wrestling mat.
Jake Schaeffer, another top wrestler, also has high expectations for himself and his team this year. Schaeffer, 20, weighs in at 136 pounds and hopes to improve on his 2015 campaign after finishing third in state.
“My goal is to score points and win matches,” said Schaeffer. Schaeffer is a sophomore and hopes to eventually transfer to the East Coast to obtain a degree in Political Science. After winning a championship, that is.
When asked about their goals for 2016, Schaeffer and Barrios both echoed the same phrase: state champs.
“If your goal isn’t to be state champs, something is wrong,” said Barrios. Barrios stated the importance of preparation when it comes to reaching one’s potential.
“If you’re confident in your preparation, you will be confident in your match.”
The impressive start to the 2016 season has earned Barrios and his Palomar squad a No. 2 ranking in the state. Being the only collegiate wrestling team in San Diego, Palomar is the place to be when it comes to seeing the best, local wrestling around. The crowd environment can be a big factor during a match and Barrios urges students to witness the excitement themselves.
“We only have a handful of home dual meets. If you haven’t experienced live wrestling before, it’s exciting, it’s violent. People seem to gravitate towards that,” Barrios said with a grin on his face.
Schaeffer also voiced a similar opinion, “It’s like a dog fight on the mat.”
The matches are about as intense and grueling as anything in sports. It’s the closest thing to a sanctioned fight that could be allowed by school officials.
Barrios finally added, “It’s competition in its most primitive form. It’s two guys giving 100 percent for seven minutes.”
Who wouldn’t want to see that?