Justin Castrillo Resigns from Oakmont Wrestling to Coach Son

Former Vikings head coach takes over Vista Del Lago’s K-5 program
By: Steven Wilson,
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For the last four seasons, Justin Castrillo has built a strong wrestling program at Oakmont High School. Castrillo led the school to Roseville School District’s only individual California State Placers. But his legacy as the Vikings leader came to an end this week as he announced his resignation.

“There’s never a good time to leave,” Castrillo admitted. “That’s the thing I really had to wrap my head around. If you’re on good terms with the school and you love the kids — if you’re in the situation I was in, there’s never a good time to leave… There’s always going to be a set of kids there that you care about and you don’t want to leave.”

In Castrillo’s first year with Oakmont in 2011, when he was still an assistant, he helped guide Jake Elliot to a state title at 145 pounds. The next season, when he took over the head coaching duties, Elliot finished with runner-up honors. In 2013, Castrillo coached Peter Santos, who racked up a 45-2 record as a senior and earned a California State Championship. Castrillo also coached Kaleio Romero, who finished second in the state at 160 pounds in 2014.

“I’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time as a coach and I’ve been privileged to coach great athletes and very coachable kids,” Castrillo confessed. “I had four state finalists and two state champions, but I don’t take the credit as if I did that. Those kids worked their tails off and I was just a tool they were able to use to help guide them there.”

Castrillo will transition to coach kindergarten through fifth grade grapplers with Nor Cal Wrestling Academy at Vista Del Lago High School in Folsom with his son being one of those wrestlers.

“Instead of my son being a part of what I have going on now, it’s a chance for me to be a part of what he’s got going on,” Castrillo said. “Wrestling is a common ground that gives us a chance to spend time together and continue to build that father-son relationship.”

Castrillo was approached at the conclusion of Oakmont’s 2015 wrestling season about the position, but originally declined.

“I told them, ‘I have a good thing going here at Oakmont,’” Castrillo recalled. “But again in the summer, probably five or six weeks ago, they asked again.

“I said, ‘I still have another year at Oakmont at least, but I will think about it.’ Well, in that process, I talked to my wife about it and she was the one who put it in my ear. She said, ‘You do realize our son is going to be wrestling this year and you’re going to miss everything.’”

Heather Castrillo understands the time commitment of a high school wrestling coach, as does, Justin. And neither wanted the former Oakmont coach to miss their son’s first year of wrestling.

“For the last four years, (Tucker has) been at every Oakmont practice, he’s been to every tournament and he’s seen my fight career as well,” Castrillo continued. “But now the roles have switched.”

Castrillo enters Nor Cal Wrestling Academy with realistic expectations. Not just for himself, but for his son and his fellow grapplers. 

“It’s not a program that’s looking to build a bunch of national champions, it’s a low-pressure situation and they want to build on the fundamentals,” Castrillo explained. “That’s exactly the environment that I want to put my son in. I want him to have fun and not get burned out and never want to wrestle again.”

Tucker, who just turned four years old this week, will get to spend more time with his father as he learns the nuances of wrestling from his biggest supporter. 

Meanwhile, Oakmont will begin the search for a replacement.

“We’re always looking for great coaches and Justin has been very successful here,” Oakmont Athletic Director Dean Perkins said. “He followed David Wells, who was also very successful.

“Justin was able to help tie in the youth wrestlers to Oakmont,” Perkins added. “He got some kids out there who may not have tried it otherwise and they did very well. That’s one of the most important things — can you get kids out there? They may not be great, but they’re better for it in (the long run). They’re better in school, they’re more likely to be successful and go to college or a trade school.” 

Although break-ups can be messy at times, that was not the case this time around.

“All the administrators were really kind about the situation,” Castrillo explained. “They understood the situation and told me that it’s an open-door policy. If this next step doesn’t work out, then I can come back and help the program. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to wait for me to come back. But we left on good terms and that’s a good feeling.”

Perkins says there’s no time to waste and the search for Castrillo’s replacement has already begun.  

“We want to get that one hammered down pretty quickly,” Perkins added. “Wrestling is a special niche, and it will go quickly.”

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