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Carlsbad junior Justin Wood is a defending state champ and has the makeup of an athlete who climbed his way to the top.

“Justin’s tenacity, Justin’s aggressiveness, his ability to just dial in and what we call ‘become selfish for a little bit’, forget about everything that’s going on around him, is something a coach can’t give a kid,” said sixth year head coach Ryan Salcido. “It’s something that he has that’s real special.”

As an eighth grader Justin Wood finished runner up at state.  His 9thgrade year, another runner up finish.  His sophomore season he claimed the title, winning all of his matches at state by pin.  He ended the year nationally ranked in the top 20 of his weight class.

“He’s a two-time runner up and a returning state champion,” said Salcido.  “Each match in the finals at state, you’re talking four points in over the three years.  To be honest, Justin hasn’t given up a takedown in two years.”

“My first year when I got second, I was in my semifinals match when I fractured my collarbone,” explained Wood.  “I went out there and wrestled the finals match with a fractured collarbone.  I lost 3-0. The next year I had Nick Rino.  At the end he got an escape and got one point and that gave me a lot of motivation for my sophomore year.  My sophomore year I went into it and I was one fire. I wanted it. I’m keeping it going this year because that feeling is the best feeling to get first.”

Finishing on top of the podium is something Justin is used to.  He recently first in the 160 pound class at the Conflict at Cleveland last week.

“I’ve been working pretty hard in the wrestling room, in practice, just trying to get ahead of everybody so I can prepare for college,” said Wood.

He’s getting looks from schools like Duke, West Point, and Brown.  Justin knows he has a target every time he steps onto the mat.

“It’s not really tough because that’s the way it’s been my whole life, so I’m kind of used to it. When you go out there you can’t take anybody lightly because they’re going to have their best match against you.”

“The lowest grade kid in any tournament he goes to is going to have his best match against him,” said Salcido.  “They have nothing to lose and everything to gain when they wrestle him.  So, he always stays dialed in and true to himself and it shows out there on the mat.”

Justin’s been wrestling since he was five.  His uncle, DJ Woodfield, a former wrestler himself, got Justin into the sport.  His aunt and uncle have raised him for more than a decade now.

“They’ve pushed me to do my best in school and wrestling and everything I do in my life and I’m really grateful for them,” said Wood.

This weekend Justin hopes to win another individual title at the Joe Vivian Classic for the fourth straight year.

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