Don’t judge Jaime Galvan by his cover.
The lone wrestler representing Mt. Whitney as the Pioneers host the Masters isn’t from Visalia.
He’s admittedly “not really into” the school’s rivalry with Redwood. In fact, he’s even rooting for the Rangers this weekend. Same goes for the Porterville and Monache kids he first wrestled with before moving to Visalia as a freshman — the ones he considers as his true rivals.
But that doesn’t mean Galvan isn’t fiercely proud to be carrying the Mt. Whitney banner as the tournament host’s only wrestler.
“I have to work my butt off because I’m the only one they’ve got,” Galvan said. “I’m kind of nervous because all those people — I need to make Visalia look good.”
Galvan once thought wrestling was “kind of gay” before he began the sport as a seventh grader in Porterville, but don’t judge him for that, either. He quickly realized how tough wrestling is after his first practice. Now he’s pretty tough himself.
“He’s a hard-nosed grinder,” Mt. Whitney head coach Cody Gibson said. “He’s never going to be super flashy or do something no one has seen before, but he’s just in your face. He’s hard to score on. He breaks people down.”
Galvan said he was drawn to the sport’s toughness because he likes to be pushed. That quality will serve him well Saturday as he opens the Masters against Clovis’ Matt Weiss, the Valley’s top ranked wrestler (No. 5 in the state) at 195 pounds.
Weiss will step onto the mat as the clear favorite, but he would be wise to not judge Galvan by his No. 12 Valley ranking.
Meet the Masters
Here are the wrestlers from Tulare County competing at Saturday’s Masters at Mt. Whitney. Weigh-ins are scheduled for 7 a.m. with the action scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Medal rounds are scheduled for 2 p.m. with the championship bouts scheduled for 6 p.m. The top 8 placers from each bracket advance to the state tournament held March 1-2 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. The ninth place wrestler can advance to state as an alternate if the Oakland Section winner from the same weight class did not place at a qualifying tournament earlier in the season.
Matt Gamble, Monache (2 State, 2 Valley)
Joey Cisneros, Redwood (8 State, 5 Valley)
Juan Javier Jimenez, Porterville (13 State, 6 Valley)
Isaiah Torres, Redwood (10 Valley)
Mason Pengilly, Porterville (1 State, 1 Valley)
Arnulfo Olea, Exeter (6 State, 3 Valley)
Josh Sibayan, Monache (38 State, 6 Valley)
Abel Contreras, Porterville (11 State, 3 Valley)
Martin Sandoval, Porterville (11 State, 1 Valley)
Kyle Jones, Exeter (11 Valley)
Gregory Pagela, Porterville (19 State, 3 Valley)
Arshdeep Dhanda, Dinuba (11 Valley)
Michael Wright, Dinuba (16 State, 8 Valley)
Blake Marple, Redwood (12 Valley)
Nathan Mesa, Woodlake (34 State, 9 Valley)
David Padilla, Dinuba (9 Valley)
Jaime Galvan, Mt Whitney (12 Valley)