By John Philip Wyllie
Thousands of athletes in 21 different sports from all over California descended upon San Diego for the annual California State games last weekend. The competition was held in pools and on tracks, diamonds, mats and courts from one end of the county to the other. Rancho Bernardo High School which hosted the wrestling competition was a beehive of activity both days with kids as young as six and as old as 18 testing their mettle against some tough competition in a prestigious event designed to simulate the Olympics.
One of the athletes that caught the eye of several local coaches was 14-year old Carlos Ayala. Ayala, wrestling on behalf of the San Diego Kings dominated all three of his opponents pinning two within seconds and the third in the opening moments of the second period. Despite his age, Ayala has been wrestling for years.
“At first, soccer was the family sport, but one of my dad’s friends told him he should get me into wrestling. I was only five years old and I first I didn’t like it at first because the coach was always yelling. My dad pulled me out of it for a few years, but I went back to it when I was nine and since then I have stuck with it,” Ayala said.
Ayala’s Cal-State championship was his first in a major tournament of this nature, but it is not the first time he has impressed on the mat. He finished second at this year’s SDIWCA while posting a record of 20-3 and placed fourth at the San Jose State Folkstyle Tournament.
Ayala believes his determination is what sets him apart. Spending a lot of time on conditioning on his own and practicing with older and stronger opponents has also been crucial. While he is enjoying his success he is more focused on what he needs to improve than he is on blowing his own horn. He has set some lofty goals for himself.
“I am hoping to be a high school league champion by my sophomore year and qualify for the (scholastic) state championship in my junior and senior years.”
Ayala employs the same determination that he uses on the mat when he is in the classroom. Taking a rigorous program of accelerated courses, he has pushed his G.P.A. to about 3.6 and has a special interest in math and English. One day, he hopes to become a doctor or a lawyer, but wrestling is his primary focus at the moment.
Over the years, Ayala has also developed into an excellent soccer player. He recently helped his team advance to the Premier League, but now he has decided to hang up his cleats in order to pursue wrestling full-time. With nearly limitless potential and lots of determination and drive, Ayala is one athlete that could really make his mark on the sport.