High School Spotlight: Getting to know Elijah Palacio of Edison High

Photos by Tony Rotundo

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Charger senior ELIJAH PALACIO, a southern section champion and eighth at the CIF state tournament, knows the target is squarely on his back this winter as the 132-pounder is in hunt of his first state title.
As a freshman, Palacio pulled off a couple of upsets en route to becoming a state qualifier. As a sophomore, he was one of the top grapplers in the state at 119, and once again he punched his ticket to the state tournament. Last season it was one of his best year’s as a scholastic wrestler as he won a masters title and fulfilled one of his lifetime dreams of becoming a state medalist. This year, he’s one of the best wrestlers in the state again and is being recruited by Concordia University in Nebraska, New York University, Stevens Institute of Technology, and some other schools in New York.
TCW – How did you get started in wrestling, Elijah?
Palacio – As a kid, my dad put me in a variety of sports from wrestling, basketball, football, track and field, soccer, and baseball. Out of all the sports, I loved wrestling, football, and soccer the most. It wasn’t till I started junior high was when I was sat down with my dad, and he made me choose what sports I wanted to do, and I had to pick either wrestling or soccer since both sports were in the same season. And since I had gotten a couple of yellow cards during the soccer season, I chose wrestling and football. Then I had to choose between football and wrestling. It wasn’t till I saw the NCAA wrestling tournament on television. It wasn’t till that day was when my dreams of being an Oakland Raider was toast. That was when I chose wrestling.
TCW – To whom do you attribute your growth over your prep career?
Palacio – My dad attributed to my growth because he would be the one who drilled, ran, and worked out with me every day.
TCW – In what ways would you say you’ve improved over the last four years?
Palacio – Pride and self-doubt are areas in my life that I am working on, even today. Freshman year, I struggled with self-doubt because I was a small, young freshman wrestling more prominent wrestlers. And with my pride, during sophomore year, I was ranked in the nation and in the state and I thought I was the man. However, all prideful men get humbled. I learned a lot from freshman to sophomore year, and I am still working on being humble yet know that I am a good wrestler.
TCW – What goes through your head leading up to a match?
Palacio – Leading to the match, I am nervous, yet confident. I respect that any guy I wrestle can beat me, but when I get on the mat, I pray, and then I breathe confidence. I walk on the match knowing that this is my match and if my opponent wants to win the match, he will have to take it away from me.
TCW – How did it feel to have won an NHSCA title this year?
Palacio – Once I pinned Weston Diblasi in the finals, I got up and didn’t even realize that I pinned him. I was so happy, shocked, and confused at the same time because I didn’t think I would pin him.
TCW – Are you planning on competing in college? If so, is there a college you are leaning towards at the moment?
Palacio – I plan on wrestling in college, and I have been talking to Concordia University in Nebraska, New York University, Stevens Institute of Technology, and some other schools in New York.
TCW – What’s your favorite part about being a wrestler?
Palacio – My favorite part about being a wrestler is traveling and seeing new places. I live a pretty routine life, so when I get to see new places, I get so stoked.
TCW – Is there one moment that stands out from your career?
Palacio – The moment when I beat Matthew Olguin from Buchanan at the Freakshow my junior year. I remember taking him down on the edge of the mat and getting up and hearing the loud cheers and boos and seeing people jumping, hugging, and that one guy flipping me off. I loved being loved and hated.
TCW – Has senioritis started to creep in at all?
Palacio – If I am honest with myself, I got senioritis during sophomore year.
TCW – Favorite food to eat in the offseason?
Palacio – My favorite food on the offseason is sushi.
TCW – Favorite T.V. show or movie?
Palacio – I love watching The Office, Rick and Morty, 13 Reasons Why and The Twilight Zone and my favorite movies are Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Fury, and Get Out.
TCW – Who would you like to thank for your success on and off the mats?
Palacio – I owe all of my success to God. There are many times in my life where I have lost friends and family, and the only comforting love I got was from God. I can do nothing without Him. James 4:10