CLOSER LOOK: Centennial’s Gio Castillo

Take a closer look at Corona Centennial’s 126-pound wrestler Giovanni Castillo and you’ll see a quiet confidence.

But you can tell he already knows.

Even he thinks he’s the best at his weight class, maybe in the state.

Castillo won all five of his matches at the Riverside County Championships on Jan. 6-7, taking the title via pin over Moreno Valley Canyon Springs’ Taylor Hall, a 2011 CIF-Southern Section champ.

Castillo pinned Hall, who had never faced in a sanctioned match, at 4 minutes, 30 seconds.

I caught up with Castillo, the tournament’s Lower Weight MVP, following the last of seven consecutive finals appearances by Centennial wrestlers. (He already has a jacket overflowing with patches.)

What was your strategy going into the finals?

“I actually told myself that I was gonna pin him, and that was what the outcome was. I told myself, ‘It might be close, or a pin.’ That’s what I told myself. It’s gonna be like a tech or anything. Close or pin,” Castillo said.

What did you see from Hall that you were able to take advantage of?

“His size, his length. I like wrestling taller people because then they have to come down to my level.”

How do you feel like you’ve progressed coming into this season?

“I feel like I’m preparing way better than I did last year. Especially the mental part, and physically too. But mostly mentally.”

How has enrolling at Centennial changed the way you wrestle?

“Coming to Centennial has really boosted my confidence up. More calm, and an understanding of how wrestling works. Just feeling more confident.”

What’s the best part about Centennial?

“It’s obviously the atmosphere. And Centennial, yeah, it’s hard work.”

Coach Randy Campbell likes what he sees from Castillo, which is “the same thing I see all the time, 100 percent. Go get it. Get every point you can. Get your bonus points. Put him on his back. Keep him there. I thought that was going to be the match of the night. I’m definitely sure everybody was happy with that match ’cause he came out like normally does. He did what we expected him to do. That’s exactly right. I’m not surprised because that’s what he like to do; Go out there and get after people. Very proud of him.”

Castillo transferred to Centennial after his freshman season at Riverside King, and it seems as he’s already ingratiated himself with his teammates.

He’s part of Centennial wrestling now, the preeminant team in the Inland Area. And part of that means participating in team ritual.

And it is Huskies ritual to be near the mat during teammates matches. No goofing off in the stands. “We don’t chew crackers,” Campbell says.

“Unity” is a buzz word among Centennial wrestlers and coaches. It builds better teams, and so far as the Huskies are concerned, better wrestlers.

If Castillo is smart, and all indications leads to suggest that he is, the 5-foot-5 junior has absorbed Centennial’s rituals and culture.

Those rituals and culture have made dozens of Huskies into CIF champions. How badly does he want to be next?


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