Aaron Galef Wins Wrestling Title
Pacific Palisades resident Aaron Galef, who wrestles for Birmingham High School, took first place at 145 pounds in the prestigious Blackwatch wrestling tournament in Upland at the end of December.
The Blackwatch, which started in 1969 with 10 teams, has become one of the top wrestling tournaments in Southern California.
Galef’s teammate, Diego Nava, who took first at 138 pounds, was named MVP at the lower weights. Additionally, five other teammates placed in the top eight.
Out of the 64 teams, Birmingham was sixth.Palisades High School was 23rd. Galef’s former teammates at Pali, Luke Hansen (160 pounds) and Immanuel Newell (285 pounds), both placed fifth.
Galef, a senior, was a standout last year at PaliHi, but after the coaching turmoil with the wrestling program, he decided to transfer to a school that has an established program, with about 100 kids all trying to make either the A or B team.
At PaliHi, the actions by one dissatisfied parent led to the dismissal of two coaches: first Steven Cinfelnil (2017), then Aldo Juliano (2018).
Faced with having a third coach in three years, Galef asked his parents to allow him to switch high schools.
At first hesitant, his dad now says that Galef is doing great and it was one of the best decisions they’ve made, that the school’s wrestling program is well-run and the students driven.
Galef played baseball, basketball and football at the Palisades Recreation Center. But then in middle school at Paul Revere, he started wrestling under coach Adam Hunter.
“I was 4’10” and weighed 80 pounds; I knew I wasn’t going to be a starter in the NBA with my size,” Galef said in an earlier interview with this reporter. And while still in middle school, he won the 85-pound weight class championship.
Wrestling allows kids of all sizes to compete and requires a mixture of strength, agility, reaction time and quick decision making.
While dedicated to his sport, Galef is also focused on academics with an overall record of A’s and B’s.
The son of Palisadians Marni and Michael Galef, Aaron has a fraternal twin, Jordan (6-ft. tall, 170 pounds), and an older brother Gabriel, who attends USC.