Yesterday was one of the highlights of my wrestling life. I participated in the SCWAY San Diego Super Bowl Brawl at Escondido HS. Competed in two weight divisions, 95 lbs and 100 lbs and I went 7-0 with all pins. This was one of the best San Diego tournaments ever, with tough teams from all over the state, like the USA Pounders, California Grapplers, Brawley Spartans, Oak Hills Dawg Town and of course all the top San Diego kid’s wrestling teams. My team, No Mercy School of Wrestling took second place just behind Poway Elite.
It was one of the rare tournaments where they actually gave out trophies instead of medals, and they gave them for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place! But best of all, SCWAY found a way to get four signed NFL Footballs autographed by Stephen Neal! Besides being the proud owner of THREE Super Bowl rings earned as a guard for the New England Patriots he also won TWO NCAA wrestling championships. Most athletes can’t win one of these five things! Oh yeah, the guy he beat in the NCAA Heavyweight Finals in 1999? Former UFC Champ Brock Lesnar!
You know what’s even more amazing than beating Brock Lesnar? Mr. Neal never even played football in college! Does that tell you how tough wrestlers are? And yes, he’s now in the wrestling Hall of Fame. He was a four-time Pac-10 champ, four-time NCAA All-American and two-time NCAA heavyweight champ for Cal State Bakersfield, plus he won the 1999 World Championships in freestyle in Turkey.
Somehow I was selected as one of the two Middle School Outstanding Wrestlers and received one of the Stephen Neal signed footballs! There were plenty of other kids who deserved the award at least as much as I did, but I was blessed to get it this year. It’s my last year to compete in the San Diego Super Bowl Brawl, so words can’t explain how happy I was to win. My little buddy from the USA Pounders Guillermo also won one for the Elementary School Division. He’s a beast!!!
The vibe at the tournament was so great. All us kids were out there trying to tear each other to pieces on the mat, but once the match is over we are cool with each other. Besides all the hours I’ve spent sweating and bleeding with my teammates, I’ve spent countless weekends competing against kids from other teams and some of my fiercest rivals have become my closest friends. Not only that, a lot of the coaches and parents who have been around all that time treat me like I’m one of theirs. The dad of a kid I used to battle for years gave me a huge hug when I won the OW award like he was my uncle or something.
There are so many awesome people at wrestling tournaments and they’re all working hard to make these events happen. Parents, coaches, refs, table workers, and trainers. I hope they all know how much it means to us wrestlers.
Update: I just noticed that Youth1, the premiere online news site for youth sports, covered the event here.