To be one of 14 people in state history to accomplish anything is an unfamiliar place for most high school seniors.
American Falls High School wrestler VJ Guilio (H.M. @ 189) finds himself in that position after winning his fourth consecutive state wrestling championship. That makes him just the fourteenth wrestler in Idaho and first from American Falls High School to accomplish the feat.
With a 42-0 record as a senior and having won the 189-pound state wrestling championship, Guilio has been named the Idaho State Journal’s Wrestler of the Year.
“I feel honored to be named wrestler of the year,” Guilio said. “I have worked hard for it and to be recognized is definitely nice and a good feeling.”
Guilio finished his high school career with 163-17 record. Despite all of his individual success, the one thing that sticks out in his mind is the relationships he built with his teammates.
“I think about the team a lot,” Guilio said. “The overall relationship we built as a team over four years was fun. It was always about us working hard together to accomplish our goals.”
As a freshman Guilio lost nine matches and still managed to win the state title at 130 pounds. He would only lose eight more matches as a sophomore and a junior. Those early defeats taught him a lot of what not to do on the mat.
“Most of the early losses were from making mistakes,” Guilio said. “It was either getting tired or lazy or not listening.”
Guilio’s dad Jim has been a huge influence on the type of wrestler he has become. He has been coached by his dad since he was five years old and Guilio said he would not be anywhere close to what he is without him.
“If it wasn’t for my dad I wouldn’t have won one state title,” Guilio said. “I owe everything I have to dad.”
The success on the mat earned Guilio a scholarship to wrestle at the University of Wyoming this fall. He will redshirt this season to allow him some time to adjust to college life.
“I’m just excited and pumped,” Guilio said about going to college. “I am ready for new and bigger things. I have a whole new set of goals now and can’t wait to get ready to accomplish them.”
His practice partner during his redshirt year will be three time All-American Joe Leblanc. Guilio knows that having a partner as good as Leblanc to face every day is going to be tough, but also will make him a better wrestler.
Despite not being able to compete with the team at Wyoming next season, Guilio says he still plans on getting in at least 30 matches in some of the open tournaments that go on during the season.
Recently Guilio became the first wrestler at American Falls High School to have his singlet retired. Having it hanging on the wall in the gym for future wrestlers to look at and want to aspire to be is something that makes him extremely proud.
“It’s awesome to get recognized like that,” Guilio said. “I have two little brothers and I want them to be able to remember me when I’m off at college. I want them to look at it and say, ‘yeah that’s my brother!’ and set standards so that they push themselves.”