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Taking his opponents straight to the mat

Palomar College Wrestler Alex Graves is number 1 in the state. Nov. 20 2014. Photo by Paul Nelson|The Telescope
Palomar College Wrestler Alex Graves is number 1 in the state. Nov. 20 2014. Photo by Paul Nelson|The Telescope

Taking names and marking graves, Alex Graves is making an impact in his college wrestling debut with his serious pre-game demeanor and his consistent takedowns of his opponents.

”I just think, I’m gunna kill him,” Graves says before he enters each match to get the nerves out of his mind and prepare for his takedown.

“I always get nervous before matches, and if I can get that out of the way, or that out of my mind, I know that’ll help me,” Graves added.

As the season is coming to an end, Graves will look to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Judo by finding a club within the region and competing and placing in tournaments as either a junior or senior member this upcoming spring. Beginning in May 2015, placing within the top 22 males on the International Judo Federation World Ranking list in his respective weight class will qualify him into the Olympic Games for Team USA.

While his Judo training sets him apart from most wrestlers as he attempts for more throws akin to Judo than the dominating submissions of wrestling, the love he has for the sport has led him to take it to the highest level possible.

Graves is no stranger to the sport of wrestling. Starting in his freshman year at San Marcos High School in 2010, Graves ended his high school wrestling career on a high note, placing third at CIF State Championships in the 160-weight class last spring.

Entering the fall wrestling season at Palomar as a freshman, Graves is currently undefeated in the 184-weight class placing him first in the state.

Wrestling Head Coach Brody Barrios said Graves has made major contributions to the team and has made him a rival for other athletes.

“(He is) definitely a D1 talent, his wrestling skills aren’t holding him back and athletically has what it takes to compete at that level. As an athlete he’s super gifted and has great balance,” Barrios said.

Palomar College Wrestler Alex Graves, who is number one in the state, watches the wrestling match, waiting to take his turn in the ring on Oct. 15, 2014. Photo by Paul Nelson|The Telescope
Palomar College Wrestler Alex Graves, who is number one in the state, watches the wrestling match, waiting to take his turn in the ring on Oct. 15, 2014. Photo by Paul Nelson|The Telescope

While undefeated at 184, Graves entered the 174-weight class during the second meet of the Southwest Conference and ended his winning streak with his loss against the No. 2 ranked Daniel Allen of Rio Hondo College.

“Physically I was pretty down,” Graves said after the loss.

Confident going into the match, Graves said what led to his demise was due to the lack of balancing his own weight; cutting too much too fast.

Even with that loss however, his previous first place win at the Meathead Movers Invitational on Oct. 25 landed him No. 3 in the state for the 174-weight class. His competitive spirit has also put him in a tough spot on deciding which weight class to compete in.

“I like being competitive. If it’s not a challenge then I kind of don’t look forward to it,” Graves said.

His two choices are between the 184-weight class where he’s No. 1 ranked in the state, or 174 where he’s currently placed at No. 3.

“I want to go into the 74’s because I’m not number one in that weight class and so while it’s good to be number one (in the 84’s), it’s always better and more fun to be the underdog and come on top,” Graves said.

While he’s torn between making a name for himself in either of the weight classes, his ability to carry points for the team with his fusion of Judo into his wrestling hasn’t gone unnoticed by his coach or teammates.

“He has a good base in Judo, and gets a lot of opportunities to get pins which are bonus points for the team.So he’s been a big contributor,” Barrios said.

Erik Collin, a freshman on the wrestling team, included that his athleticism has helped get a majority of the pins on the team and in part due to his strength and hard work.

Despite his intense competitive nature, Graves is still an everyday college student who likes to hangout with his friends, play games and partake in grappling sports on his free time.

“He’s always positive, if he could have a duel meet or tournament everyday that would be what he would choose to do,” Barrios said.

While a freshman at Palomar, Graves is currently majoring in human biology. He has his eyes set on transferring to University of California San Diego where he’ll figure out where in the field of medicine he wants to pursue, for now.

As Graves is advancing in his academic and athletic career, he has a few choice words of advice for those looking to accomplish whatever aims they currently have.

“Make everything a challenge. Put everything into it. If you have something to go for, then you have the drive to do it,” Graves said.

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Taking his opponents straight to the mat