ELOY — They became known as the Chavez boys in the wrestling circuit back when Sergio Chavez’s two oldest sons, Sergio Jr. and Diego, began wrestling.
A few years later, Xavier came along and is now continuing in his older brothers’ footsteps, carrying on the family legacy while making a name for himself.
Xavier is an eighth-grader at Eloy Junior High and is coming off a first place finish at the Brian Keck Memorial Preseason Nationals in Iowa last month. Xavier knocked off top-seeded Elijah Blewitt by pinning him in the 130-pound weight class.
“It was really fun and it was a little scary,” Xavier said. “I was nervous because in the finals, you’re on a stage and everyone is around there watching. It’s a little nerve-racking with all the people around watching you, but once you’re wrestling it goes away and you’re just focused.”
Xavier trailed Blewitt during the match, but managed to come back and pin Blewitt with 30 seconds left.
“We were standing up and then I tripped the dude, and then I remember beating him in like a cradle and then I pinned him and I was so happy,” Xavier said.
His dad added that the match was pretty intense as Xavier and Blewitt went back and forth.
“He’s very humble and quiet,” Sergio Sr. said of his youngest son. “If he’s wrestling a kid that’s a new wrestler or that is working his way up, he won’t put them down or nothing. He’ll just beat them and get it over with, and get off the mat. But when it’s at this high of a level and the other kid is coming in and feeling just as dominant, (Xavier) rises to the occasion because that’s when he wants to put on a show.”
Being the youngest of the three brothers, Xavier began wrestling when he was five years old. Since his older brothers were already competing in tournaments, he grew up in the sport.
According to the older Sergio, his three sons are all very supportive of each other. With Xavier being the youngest, he would always wrestle his older brothers and get beaten up a lot by them.
Once it finally came down to wrestling kids his age, Xavier was really excited about competing in his weight class and having opponents his age.
“There’s a saying in wrestling, the youngest one is always the best because he’s been through it all,” Sergio Sr. said. “It kind of is true. When my older boys were lifting weights for the first time, (Xavier) would go with them and started lifting weights.”
Now Xavier is beginning to look at the next chapter as he prepares for high school and, later on, college. He’s still ahead of the rest of the curve, thanks to his older brothers.
Sergio Jr. was a two-time state champion at Chandler Seton Catholic, and Diego is in his first year at Arizona State after being a four-time state champion at Santa Cruz Valley.
When Diego began seeing a weight training coach who was recommended by ASU, Xavier began to tag along as well. Additionally, Diego comes home and gives Xavier tips that he’s picked up with the Sun Devils.
It’s a passing of the baton between the brothers, as Sergio Jr. helped coach Diego in high school.
While his older brothers have set the bar high when it comes to wrestling, Xavier doesn’t let that faze him.
“I kinda want to set my own goals,” he said. “I’m just trying to shoot high and train hard, and know that every time I step on the mat that I worked my hardest. Just being confident in myself and trying to do whatever I can to be the best.”
His dad added that out of all three boys, Xavier is the one who was born into wrestling and it’s come naturally to him.
All three brothers have a similar build, but their wrestling styles differ from each other. Xavier is the most physical of the three and likes to really take chances on the mat.
The tournament last month was the first of the wrestling season for USA Wrestling. It’s the starting point where wrestlers set their expectations for the season and find their limits and strengths in ability to compete, and what they need to work on.
The father and son duo made the trip out to Iowa and took on some nationally-ranked club teams with Xavier coming in as the No. 3 seed.
Xavier said that his mindset going into the tournament was to just get his name out there for colleges.
“I’m trying to just go over there and destroy everyone and show my talent,” he added.
As the tournament went on and Xavier continued moving on to the next round, he said that his extra motivation to make the finals was wanting to experience the entrance the wrestlers make.
“I was really looking forward to that because you come out to, like, smoking stuff,” he said. “I’ve never really done that before. So it was like, I want to just keep winning and winning to get to that, so I can feel that moment.”
One of Xavier’s favorite things about wrestling is that everyone has a different style and has their own strengths when it comes to technique.
Along with finding success on the mat, the Chavezes excel in the classroom. It’s one of the things Sergio Sr. and his wife, Carmen, have instilled in the boys. While dad really pushed things on the mat, mom provided a balance and wanted the boys to also spend time reading and learning.
“When the boys were younger I demanded that besides the chores and everything, one hour of weightlifting and two hours of wrestling a day in the summer, and then they could have the rest of the day for video games or whatever,” Sergio Sr. said. “So my wife said, if that’s the case, I want one hour of them laying on their bed reading that day.”
Xavier admitted it was difficult to balance everything at times, between the demands of school, and wrestling both for Eloy Junior High and nationally.
“I just have to stay focused and I can’t really have any time when I’m just wasting it doing nothing,” he said. “I will have fun, but then I also have to make sure to get my stuff done. I make time for myself and sometimes sacrifice staying up late doing homework or something.”
With Diego now wrestling in college and Sergio Jr. being the oldest, it’s just Xavier and his dad when they go to tournaments. Although it’s just the two of them now, the sport has provided countless memories for the Chavezes and has formed a strong bond among the brothers.
“I was able to keep the boys together,” Sergio Sr. said. “This was something that I could just do with all three of them. We had a lot of father-son time, and then when mom would go with us to tournaments, just a lot of family time.”
Xavier added that he’s enjoyed being on this journey and having fun with his brothers.
“We’re all cheering each other on; sometimes we tease each other and we’ll be like, ‘Oh, I placed higher than you,’” he said. “It’s fun, we can all help each other; they’ve helped me get better. They beat me up sometimes, but it’s fun being competitive with them.”