Del Oro’s Branum eyes state wrestling title
LOOMIS – Austin Branum eats up workout partners like elite track stars run through shoes. Del Oro High wrestling coaches bring in alumni, platoon other team members against him and might even resort to bringing guys off the street if they think it would help Branum.
It’s all for good reason, though.
The senior is the only returning California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling championship qualifier from last year’s team. He finished fifth in the 145-pound weight class and has his eyes set on a first-place finish this season.
“It just really showed me that if I push my hardest, I can reach my goals,” Branum said of reaching state. “And if I try hard enough I can do anything. It just lets me know that I’m in the game and this year I’m going to go for the win. It just helps kind of give me more confidence in myself.”
Branum is the state’s No. 3-ranked 145-pound wrestler and has wrestled at 152 pounds to start off the year but could drop to 145 at the end of the season. He’s swept the competition in the first three tournaments and is ready for his first real test when he travels to Reno for the start of the Sierra Nevada Classic, which runs Wednesday-Friday.
“Austin is just the best example we could have in the room,” Del Oro co-coach Dave Sanchez said. “He’s the hardest working guy in the room, he does everything we ask him to do, he’s always wrestling. We couldn’t have a better example because he will never complain about anything. He will work his butt off, he will work extra. We’ll do all we can too, to get him the extra guys that he can work with that are a high level. He’s always working.”
Time is something Branum has. Surprisingly, he doesn’t participate in any other on-campus sports. Instead, he focuses solely on wrestling throughout the year.
“If you think about it it’s just time, so if you’re going to be there you might as well work your hardest,” said Branum, “You’re going to have to do it, you might as well not complain about it. That’s how I think about it. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it my hardest because time you can’t really get back. Once you use it, it’s done.”
One beneficiary of Branum’s time is junior Patrick Neu, his workout partner. Neu, who was two wins shy of a state championship berth last season, has state aspirations of his own and said working with Branum has been a game changer.
“Wrestling with Austin, everybody else seems easier,” said the 145-pounder. “He’s one of the best but by far he’s the most brutal wrestler in the state. He’s always pounding on kids and so it’s making me stronger in every way. It’s going to make other opponents, who were harder last year, seem like nothing this year because I’m working with him every day.”
Austin Branum Resumè
Year: Senior at Del Oro High
Weight: 152 (could drop to 145)
2010-11: Finished fifth in CIF State Wrestling championships
2011-12: Ranked third in the state