This week’s Prep Spotlight takes us to South Central High School, where senior heavyweight wrestler George Ayino, with a 50-4 overall record and a conference champion already under his belt, is preparing for his final regional 4A tournament after an outstanding regular season in which he earned his 100th career win.
Q: When did you start wrestling?
A: I had a group of friends in the eighth grade at A.G. Cox (Middle School) I had started wrestling with. We just decided, ‘Let’s try wrestling,’ and it’s worked out good.
Q: Do you remember your first match?
A: Back in middle school, I was wrestling 208, 209 (pounds). I wasn’t really nervous…my favorite sport was football; I was doing this (wrestling) just to do it.
Q: Some football players get into wrestling to stay in shape. Was that the case for you?
A: The first two years I did it just to stay in shape. Then in my junior year, Coach Trey (Justin Harrell) came in and told me how good I really was and could be and for me to realize my potential.
Q: You earned your 100th career win recently. When was that?
A: At the end of last month. I never really thought I would get to that point; it was really surreal. I felt like all the work I had put in had paid off. It shows how much I have grown over the years.
Q: How has coach Harrell helped you become a better wrestler?
A: He is probably the most motivational person I’ve met, sports-wise. He really pushed me past my limits; I never had a coach who had pushed me like he did. He really cared about me and my wrestling career.
Q: Do you have a favorite match this year?
A: When I wrestled in the WRAL Tournament, I started doing things a little different – I used different moves that I am applying to my matches now, and they are helping me wrestle better.
Q: Last year you qualified for states. What are your goals this year?
A: I was sixth in the state in my weight class, so I want to do better this year.
Q: Are there any upcoming opponents who could give you problems?
A: I am a pretty confident person. I feel like I can beat anybody I wrestle from here on out. I wrestle everybody the same regardless of what their record is. It really is a mental thing; I just have to make sure my mind is right.