Felix excels on mat, gridiron

Alex Felix is a three-time CCS champion. Photo by Josh Miller.

As an undersized nose tackle and cornerback on this year’s Central Coast Section Division V championship-winning Gilroy High football team, Alex Felix could’ve been considered an underdog, as he was routinely giving up anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds to opposing offensive linemen.

Nevertheless, Felix had a huge impact in the Mustangs’ success, making plays in a variety of ways through sheer talent, heart and determination. In the wrestling arena, of course, Felix doesn’t have to contend with heavier athletes, but he probably wouldn’t mind if he did. That’s because Felix—who has signed a scholarship to wrestle at Ohio State next year—has superior technical skills, meaning opposing teams on at least a handful of occasions this season will forfeit the match in Felix’s 138-pound weight class.

Felix possesses a solid top and bottom game, and he credited Gilroy coach Greg Varela and Jason Villareal for helping him develop the strong technical skills that are evident every time he steps onto the mat. A three-time Central Coast Section champion, Felix can make a case for being one of the most accomplished wrestlers in Gilroy High’s illustrious program history if he wins a CIF State Championship this season.

He took third at state in his freshman and junior years and fourth as a sophomore.

“Winning state is definitely my biggest goal,” he said. “I would love to get a state title under my belt.”

Felix knows there hasn’t been much that separated him from the eventual state champion in the last three years. He’s banking on his previous experience to power him toward a state title in his final go-around at the high school level.

“The difference is it’s just a mindset and knowing I put in the work,” he said. “I just have to go out there and let it all go and not hold back. I have to leave it all out there.”

Felix’s athleticism, competitiveness and work ethic are off the charts, the reason why he was able to excel this past season playing his first and only year of high school football. Having focused on wrestling since he was 6 years old, Felix needed a much deserved break from wrestling year-round for one season.

So he tried out for the football team in the summer, and his performance along with the team’s achievements surpassed his expectations. Not only did the Mustangs enjoy a fairy-tale 13-0 season, but Felix played a vital role as a starting nose tackle and cornerback, earning all-Monterey Bay League Pacific Division First Team and Rookie of the Year honors.

“It was a great experience,” said Felix, who totaled 12 sacks. “I just loved it. I was a lot quicker than the heavier guys, and wrestling helped me a lot because they weren’t used to using their hands like I was. When they would come at me, I knew what to do to throw them out of the way or get by them.”

Felix also had an interception from the nose tackle position, no small feat considering it came against rival Christopher.

“The coaches said they had never seen a nose tackle get an interception before in our games against Christopher,” he said.

Christopher attempted a screen pass only to see Felix foil the play by telegraphing the pass and intercepting it. Since Felix is coming off an extended football season, he’s adjusting to the rigors of wrestling.

“In football, you have a lot of fast bursts and breaks in between play,” he said. “In wrestling, you have to have that endurance to grind things out because wrestling just wears out your body and lungs. It’s really hard. You definitely need a lot of conditioning to be at your best.”

Out of all of Felix’s accomplishments—of which there are many, both at the high school and club level—he said one of his greatest moments came at state in his freshman season. Trailing by four points with 15 seconds left in a quarterfinal match, Felix accumulated five points in rapid-fire fashion, the last points coming as time expired to give Felix a thrilling, come from behind victory.

“That is the match I’m most proud of in high school,” he said.

Felix will be a heavy favorite to four-peat as a CCS champion, the last three coming at 132 pounds. This season Felix will be competing at 138, and one of the keys to his success lies in being mentally tough, but also enjoying the journey.

“It’s constantly going to practice and having a good attitude and mindset,” he said. “I’m always trying to make the environment fun for the other guys and always cracking jokes because wrestling takes a toll on you.”

Felix actually had a bit of disdain for wrestling in his first three or four years of competition.

“It’s kind of hard to describe,” he said. “When you’re forced to do it, it kind of made me hate it for a while.”

Over time, however, Felix slowly began to develop a love for the sport. He credits his dad, Alex, for never allowing him to quit the sport.

“I’m glad my dad made me stick with it,” Felix said. “One of the main reasons why Gilroy wrestling is so good is because we start at an early age and stay with it for many years. Consistency wins.”

Does it ever.

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