By John Philip Wyllie
Of the hundreds of grapplers that competed in last weekend’s San Diego Holiday Classic Wrestling Tournament at Eastlake High, most have been wrestling since elementary school. San Diego High School’s 125 pound Samuel Chavez was therefore at a decided disadvantage nearly every time he stepped onto the mat Saturday, but he still managed to capture second place in a tournament that featured some of the top wrestlers within and beyond San Diego County.
“Baseball was my thing when I was younger, but now wrestling is my number one sport. I think it puts you in the best shape that you can be in,” said the San Diego High senior. Chavez, who runs cross-country and track for the Cavers, discovered wrestling during his sophomore year.
“I was already running by then, but I was looking for another challenge. I tried it out and I liked it, but I got beat in my first few matches,” Chavez recalled. He doesn’t get beat very often any more. Last year Chavez took third in his weight class in both the City Conference and the Division I Masters Tournament. Currently 15-2 on the season, he has a bigger prize in mind this time around.
“I didn’t qualify for the state tournament last year, so that is my goal this season.” Beyond that, he would like earn a scholarship to wrestle in college.
“I’ve applied to Fresno State, BYU Idaho and SDSU. Of the three, Fresno has the best wrestling program, so that is where I’d like to go.” With a G.P.A of 3.7 and a strong background in math and sciences, Chavez has a good shot at one day realizing his dream of becoming a commercial pilot or to work in the field of aerospace engineering.
In the meantime, he will keep his focus on academics and wrestling. He is off to a promising start in both areas.
“This is my third tournament of the year. I took first place in the Mira Mesa Tournament and third at Mar Vista,” Chavez said. “We’ve got a young team this year, but we have really good coaches, so I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”
One of those coaches, Sixto Cepeda, had some positive things to say about the Caver captain.
“He’s a real smart, dedicated kid and he is always respectful. Samuel listens to what we tell him and he’s a leader on this team. He shows a lot of spirit out there and always cheers on his teammates,” Cepeda added. Chavez likes his role as the team’s captain.
“When I was younger, the older guys helped me a lot, so now I have a chance to help some of our younger people.” One of them is his younger brother, Daniel who also participates with him on the school cross country and track teams.
“I wish I had started wrestling a lot earlier, but at least now I can help my brother.”