By John Philip Wyllie
When he enrolled at Eastlake High School several years ago George Castilleja thought his future might be in football. At that time he didn’t know a thing about wrestling. In fact, he harbored negative feelings about the sport and had no interest whatsoever in pursuing it. That all changed when one of his friends talked him into trying out for the wrestling team during his sophomore year. He made the varsity squad in his first year and has progressed steadily ever since. Last year he posted a 20-4 record and claimed the Metro Conference Championship. Now a senior, Castilleja ranks as one of Eastlake’s top competitors and he provides leadership as a team captain.
“George is lightning quick, knows his technique pretty well. He takes himself to the limit every day,” according to Titan head coach, Dean Tropp. “We are hoping that is going to be George’s year to shine. He finished third in CIF competition last year and he is looking good so far this year. We can’t wait to see him up against some good competition.”
He my find that this week when he participates in the Scripps Ranch Tournament and wrestles against Chula Vista. With Eastlake now wrestling in Division I, Castilleja is looking forward to the opportunity of battling against Poway, the county’s perennial wrestling powerhouse. His goal is to lead his team over their North County rivals in the CIF Championship. Personally, he hopes to claim a Masters title and qualify for the state competition at season’s end. Wrestling is a lot more than just another sport to Castilleja.
“Only a wrestler can understand the thrill of this sport. It’s more like an addiction,” Castilleja said. “You come into this room everyday and put in all this hard work. When you get that success after you win it pays off every time and sends you out there hungry for more. Wrestling is maybe the least popular sport at this high school and it is also the hardest one out there. Only the few will stay with it and it will bring out the best in anybody. And anybody can participate in this sport you don’t have to be big like in football. To be good at it, it takes a lot of dedication and motivation and everything you have in you. It is really hard to train as hard as you have to for wrestling and then lose. There is always somebody out there training just as hard as you, so if you don’t want to lose you have to train that much harder.”
Castilleja has found that wrestling has taught him many valuable lessons beyond what he has learned on the mat.
“They say if you can survive wrestling, you can survive anything and I really believe that. (Completing your) homework is nothing compared to a six minute match. To keep on wrestling I have to continue to do well in school, so of course, I am going to do that.”