Benales Reflects Before Final Wrestling Season


Courtesy Photo

Benales holds his hand high after a win. This match marked his second conference title as a sophomore in 2020.

Benales talks with head coach J.D. Emerick and assistant coach Brad Warren after finishing a match. (Courtesy Photo)

Sports have been one of the biggest and most influential parts of my life. Everyone at Paoli knows me as an athlete and rightfully so. When I was little, I fell in love with sports. I played baseball, soccer and football since I was a kid in elementary school. Once I got a little older and went into junior high, I added track and wrestling to this list.

Wrestling is hands down my favorite sport. Many people will tell you that they regret doing this sport, or working their bodies so hard when they were younger, but I just can’t say the same. I have never regretted a single day of my wrestling career since I started in seventh grade. When the wrestling coach asked me if I was open to giving it a shot, I didn’t realize what that would turn into for me. Since then, my winters have been pure joy. This year will be my sixth year wrestling at Paoli, and as I enter my final season, the only regret I have is not realizing my love for the sport at a younger age.

One of my favorite parts of this sport is the variety of people I get to meet. I like getting to know people from the different schools we travel to, two to three hours away. During the various tournaments like PLAC, SIWC and the Cub Classic, I meet so many different people and form bonds with them. With that being said, I am so thankful for the friendships I have made through wrestling. Some of my closest friends are the same people I met on the mat when I was younger, whether they are my own teammates or someone I have met from a different school.

I can blame some of this on missing most of my sophomore year and all of my junior year due to injuries, but when it comes down to it, the missed opportunities don’t matter.

— Senior Austin Benales

Wrestling is a special sport not a lot of people get to experience. Your success is essentially based on your own effort and how good you want to be.

Unfortunately, I have come up short in the past three years. I can blame some of this on missing most of my sophomore year and all of my junior year due to injuries, but when it comes down to it, the missed opportunities don’t matter.

This is my last chance to give it my all and be the best I can be. My entire legacy rides on what I accomplish this season.

I plan to take home my third conference title and to be the first Paoli wrestler to move onto Regionals in four years. This is the longest streak that our team hasn’t had a wrestler move on to the next round after Sectional. These are big goals, somewhat intimidating, but I feel like I am more than capable of achieving them if I work hard enough. Plus, accomplishing this as a senior would really make me feel like my career is complete and wrap wrestling up for me on a good note.

Benales pins a West Washington opponent during a home meet. (Courtesy Photo)

This is my final year, so it’s the last chance to do what I love. With it starting to come to an end, I am so thankful I get to be a member of such a great team with great coaches and fellow wrestlers. Wrestling has taught me more things than I can name — hard work, perseverance, leadership, teamwork being only a few. I believe the lessons I have learned in this sport will continue to benefit me going forward in life. I definitely have cherished the time I have spent on the mat and although our season hasn’t officially started yet, I already know I will miss it more than anything once my season comes to one last end.