Earlier this year it was announced that Life Pacific College in San Dimas, California was offering wrestling and would begin competition during the 2018-’19 season. Taking the helm at Life Pacific is former Cal Baptist Assistant Coach Arsen Aleksanyan. Well known in the California wrestling circles, Aleksanyan has an impressive resume, both as a competitor and coach. Since taking the helm, Coach Akeksanyan has been very busy recruiting and building his roster to compete this coming season. So far, he has recruited many talented wrestlers from the Golden State and more recently, he recruited two-time California state medalist and NHSCA National Champion Elijah Palacio of Edison High School in Huntington Beach. This past week, I had the opportunity to conduct a Question and Answer with Elijah.
Q&A WITH ELIJAH
TCW: How did you first get involved in the sport of wrestling?
PALACIO: My dad wrestled in high school and always wanted his son to wrestle so I began at the age of four years old. We lived in Covina at the time so I started off at the Northview’s youth program, The California Grapplers.
TCW: Who was your biggest influence in the sport?
PALACIO: It wasn’t just one person who was my influence, but two, my mother and father. My mother would make my food when I felt weak from cutting and would always tell me that, “I can do it.” My father would be my workout partner during late night drills and would be by my side when I would run seven miles after a practice. They always told me I would be great if I never gave up.
TCW: Whom were your role models growing up?
PALACIO: As a kid, God, Daniel Cormier, Jimmy Pedro, Morgan McIntosh, and William “Tank” Knowles were the people I strived to be on and off the mat.
TCW: Considering the sport of wrestling is among the toughest sports in the world, how has it shaped the person you are today?
PALACIO: If wrestling has taught me anything, its to be strong (mentally and physically), never give up, look to God during trials, and if you want something, do whatever it takes to get that thing. Those are some aspects in my life that have shaped me.
TCW: What attracted you to continue your wrestling career at Life Pacific University?
PALACIO: What attracted me to Life Pacific was the Christian based school, the young, ambitious team, and the coach. I am a Christian so it is great to be going to a college that will help me with my walk with God. Secondly, I was excited because there are hammers on the team from the 125 weight class to heavyweight. Lastly, I have had my share of coaches, ranging from great to horrible. So choosing a coach for me was different from how other people choose coaches. I not only look at who the coach is and what he has done, but look at the character and ask myself, “Would he put his life on pause to help me become better?” I came to the conclusion that Arsen would do that and some. That’s just the type of man Coach Arsen is. Selfless, caring, loving, and funny are characteristics from Arsen that made me choose Life Pacific.
TCW: What goals do you have at Life Pacific University?
PALACIO: For sports, I plan on becoming a NAIA National Champ or an All-American the first year I am there. It would be awesome if the team placed top 5 in the nation at the national tournament.
TCW: What academic goals do you have at Life Pacific University?
PALACIO: Academically, I would like to have a 3.5 or better GPA through the year. I was not the best student because I didn’t apply my whole self into school. I know if I get rid of distractions, apply all my effort into school, and know God has my back when I am stressed, I can get a 3.5 or better GPA.
ELIJAH PALACIO PROFILE
- 2x CA State Placer (8th, 6th)
- 4x Southern Section Masters Placer
- 4x CIF Placer
- 4x CA State Qualifier
- 4x Orange Coast/Sunset League Champion
- NHSCA Junior National Champion
- 3x All-American