Alex Carrillo is back where he felt he belonged all along.
Instead of going to Desert Vista last season the Ahwatukee resident Carrillo open enrolled at Corona del Sol after spending the summer prior to his freshman season school year working with the Aztec freestyle club.
“I don’t regret anything and I got great experience there,” the sophomore 113-pounder said. “I got better. I beat five guys who beat me before, but I liked the environment better here. I’m happy I am back here, that’s for sure.”
Partly because when the name Carrillo is listed on a bracket, like it is this weekend at the Flowing Wells Invitational in Tucson, it only looks right with a DV next to it.
Alex is the third of three wrestling brothers as Tim finished third at state in 2007 for the Thunder, while Ben capped off his career with a state title in 2009 after finishing third (2007) and second (2008).
It’s only proper if the next Carrillo attempts to match their accomplishments — he finished fourth at state at 106 pounds as a freshman — wearing the Desert Vista blue, white and gold.
“People always see me as the next Carrillo. Every time,” he said. “I like being compared to them because they were so good. I grew up watching them wrestle and winning matches all of the time. I wanted to wrestle because of them and now I am back in the same (practice) room they worked out in all those years.”
It’s almost like they never left.
“He is just like his brothers — works hard and is dedicated,” Thunder coach David Gonzalez said. “He has the same persona. He comes to practice every day trying to get better.”
Carrillo enters the weekend at 17-3 after finishing second in the Tournament of Champions in California, and placed sixth in two other tournaments after injuries kept him from finishing after he advanced far enough to place.
“You are never going to be 100 percent in this sport and we are learning to deal with it,” Gonzalez said. “It is something you have to fight through and everyone deals with it differently.”
Carrillo has been dealing with pain for years as his brothers took it upon themselves to make sure he’d be ready for the physicality of the sport.
They have a wrestling mat in their home and a brother who is nearly a decade younger is not going to fare well in that situation in the short term, but it’s exactly what he’d needed in the long term.
“No matter who I wrestle they are not going to be as strong as them,” he said. “They were my personal trainers. They want to work with me and make me better. It’s hard and they push me, but that’s what I need. It’s all worth it in the end.”
They come into the Desert Vista practice room when they can, but most days he is working with Gage McGrew (106) and Brian Mitchell (126).
“We were partners growing up and then he was gone (at Corona),” said Mitchell, a two-time state placer. “We are getting back at it. He works hard every day and is always trying to get better. That’s what you want from a partner.”
The tough drilling will continue to pay off the rest of season and prepare them for big events like Flowing Wells this weekend.
“It’s the tournament of the year,” Desert Vista coach David Gonzalez said. “This is where everyone measures themselves against the rest of the state. You can come out of this feeling either very good about yourself or knowing you have some work to do.
“Either way it’s a good benchmark heading toward the end of the season.”
Carrillo was one match away from placing at Flowing Wells a year ago, but believes he is ready to take the next step.
“I want to go for first place every time,” he said. “If I end up placing and wrestled the best I could then take that and learn from it. I am going to wrestle some kids (at Flowing Wells) that I’ve lost to, and hopefully I can avenge those losses.”
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