Onward and Upward

After Transfer, Aaron Galef Is Wrestling for Another City Title

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

Last February, Aaron Galef wore a Palisades High singlet as he had his arm raised as the City Section 132-pound wrestling champion.

This winter, the senior is the favorite to win his division, but if he accomplishes his goal he’ll be wearing a different uniform. Galef made the decision to transfer to Birmingham High over the summer a few months after Pali High Coach Aldo Juliano was fired, and since then he hasn’t looked back.

A few days after Christmas the lifelong Palisadian scored two pins and three lopsided decisions to win the 145-pound title at the prestigious BlackWatch Tournament in Upland, cheered on by several former teammates.

“I made the choice to bump up two classes—cutting weight wasn’t for me, it hurt my strength and endurance,” said Galef, the top-ranked wrestler in the City in his division. “I leave everything on the mat. You should be dead tired after a match.”

Galef has been learning the Greco-Roman style used in the Olympics and his nickname “Peanut” has only partially stuck.

“Another wrestler at a higher weight [at Birmingham] already had that nickname, so it hasn’t fully caught on yet,” Galef said. “It’s great seeing all the Pali guys here supporting me and I still support them. Once I knew Aldo wasn’t coming back I really took that to heart. We all had to make our own decisions as to what to do, but everyone’s in a better place now.”

Galef, who lives in the Alphabet Streets, learned a lot from Juliano and volunteers his time a few nights a week teaching younger kids at Gerry Blanck’s Martial Arts Center in a class called “Mat Monsters,” which Juliano started.     

Winning BlackWatch in his first tournament after the transfer holding period was a testament to Galef’s talent. In October he took fourth in the Elite 18-and-under category at the “Freak Show” in Las Vegas (going 7-2 and losing to two Division I commits) and he also traveled to a national tournament in Denver.

While working when he can on his own business, “Handy Boys,” where he does odd-and- end chores to help pay for his commuting, Galef also wrestles for a national club team called “Son of Thunder.”

Growing up “Peanut” played basketball and football at the Palisades Recreation Center and PPBA baseball at the Field of Dreams. He started wrestling under Coach Adam Hunter at Paul Revere Middle School.

“I was always small,” Galef said. “I was too short for basketball and I heard [P.E. Coach] Paul Foxson talking about the wrestling program one day.”   

Galef’s fraternal  twin Jordan attends Pali High and their older brother Gabe played quarterback on the Dolphins’ varsity football team and is now at USC.