By Karen Billing
Julian Shearer, a 12-year-old seventh grade grappler at R. Roger Rowe School, placed first in the 90-pound weight class at the Big 8 League wrestling championships on Feb. 22. Julian was part of the most successful wrestling squad the school has ever had, with all seven teammates placing high in their individual weight classes.
“Julian was and is an inspiration to his teammates, not just the kids younger than him but to the older kids on the team as well,” said Coach Ryan Bixler. “Julian has the heart of a champion.”
Julian started wrestling two years ago, inspired by his older brother who wrestled.
“It’s just a fun sport. It’s not a team sport, it’s all on you,” Julian said, noting that even though you compete on your own, you still experience the team aspect of training with teammates and cheering them on in meets.
At first the sport was challenging for Julian as there were so many moves to learn. During his first two years he said he stuck to the same head and arm moves.
“This is the first year I opened up and started learning new tricks, like the ‘shock’ and the ‘double leg’,” Julian said.
He credits coach Bixler with not only making practices fun, but also helping the wrestlers expand their skills and knowledge of the sport.
“I think he’s the best sports coach I’ve ever had,” Julian said.
Bixler is just as complimentary of Julian, remembering a match this season when he was down by two points with two seconds left.
“Most kids would give up, walk off the mat and say ‘Well I tried my best’ but not Julian,” Bixler said. “This kid fought and put pressure on his opponent and forced him to crack.”
Julian was able to take his opponent down and force overtime and, with some encouragement to keep the pressure on from Bixler, he caught his opponent off guard and scored the winning points.
“Julian is walking, talking, proof that through hard work and sacrifice all things are possible and that right there is motivation and inspiration not only for the youth of the world but also us adults as well,” Bixler said.
In the season’s final Big 8 tournament, Julian was a number one seed and he said he breezed through his first match. Moving on he had to face the division’s second seed for the championship.
“It was a tough match but I pulled it together right at the end,” Julian said.
Julian was behind for the first two periods and in the last 30 seconds pulled a head and arm move that earned him two points and won the match.
Julian’s mom, Samantha, said she was initially nervous about her son competing in wrestling.
“The first couple of matches were very hard to watch because I was afraid he would get hurt, but then I realized it’s a pretty safe sport,” Samantha said. “And it gets very exciting, it’s very intense because it’s just the two of them out there.”
Being out on the mat on his own has helped Julian in a couple of ways. He said he’s grown more confident and the sport has also helped him focus.
“When I get out there, I just think about wrestling, nothing else comes into my mind,” Julian said.
In addition to wrestling, Julian is also a skateboarder. He competes in the San Diego Skateboard League and that season begins next week.