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Badgers’ new wrestling coach is an excited alum
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New Prescott High wrestling coach Shawn Carbajal, with his wife, Malari, and their 2-year-old daughter, Ceclia. (Sherry Bailey Photography/Courtesy)

New Prescott High wrestling coach Shawn Carbajal, with his wife, Malari, and their 2-year-old daughter, Ceclia. (Sherry Bailey Photography/Courtesy)

PRESCOTT — For the third time in as many seasons, Prescott has a new wrestling coach — an alum with previously close ties to the high school who should bring instant stability.

Shawn Carbajal, a state champion wrestler for the Badgers in 1999 who graduated in 2000, replaces Enrique Carreon, who spent the 2018-19 campaign as Prescott’s head coach.

Max Payne, also an alum, had previously coached the Badgers, although he stepped aside in 2018 for job- and family-related reasons.

“For one, I want to stick around,” Carbajal said from Peoria on Saturday, April 20. “As we’ve gone through coaches, life happens and certain coaches don’t work out; they change. I want to be here [in Prescott] and I want to stay.”

Prescott Athletic Director Missy Townsend announced Carbajal’s hiring on April 16, via email.

“My plan is to get up there and bring back that wrestling culture in the community,” said Carbajal, adding that he also wants to be involved with the younger grapplers at the feeder elementary and middle schools. “Prescott is a wrestling community, and I’ve always thought that.”

Townsend said several people in the wrestling community here recommended Carbajal, 37, for the position.

“He brings to Prescott a wealth of knowledge, experience and tradition,” Townsend added in her email.

Carbajal, born in Mesa, first moved to Prescott in 1994 with his parents, Paul and Shelley, and his younger brothers, Brian and Greg, each of whom were multiple-time state wrestling placers at Red Mountain High School in Mesa. Greg was a state champion.

Shawn began wrestling at Mile High Middle School, where he won a state championship. At Prescott High, he placed at state four times, capturing the state title as a junior.

Despite receiving NCAA Division I offers to wrestle, Shawn chose not to attend college. Rather, he became a firefighter, like his father.

Shawn has worked for Peoria Fire Department for the past 16 years as an engineer, and he has helped out with the hazardous materials team and the rescue swimmer boat team.

Carbajal started coaching wrestling at Red Mountain in 2001, when Brian and Greg were wrestling, and he has been there ever since as an assistant coach. He said he wants to integrate his experiences at Prescott.

At Red Mountain, for example, the high school wrestlers were involved with the youth programs there.

“I remember as a kid traveling with the high school kids [at Prescott High] to tournaments down in Phoenix,” Carbajal said. “That’s something that I really want to bring back. It’s important for building that wrestling culture.”

When his family’s home sells, Shawn said he will be moving from Gilbert to Prescott with his wife, Malari, and their 2-year-old daughter, Cecilia, but still commuting to Peoria for firefighting.

“They’re really excited to get up to Prescott,” Shawn said of his young family.

Toward the beginning of the 2019-20 wrestling season in September, Carbajal said he will host an open house for Prescott High’s wrestlers and their families, and discuss future plans for the program. In addition, he’s organizing a big cornhole tournament fundraiser and a fall camp.

“We’re trying to lock down a venue right now, and we’ll get all the fine details of that,” Carbajal said of the cornhole tourney. “We’re planning on having some food and see how many teams we can get. That’s going to be open to whoever wants to pay the entry fee for a team.”

Carbajal added that he wants to bring back wrestlers who may have left the program recently but remain enrolled at Prescott, and get parents involved. He said he’s tentatively scheduled to conduct a meeting at the high school on May 15.

“I’d like to see people come out to the events if they’re curious about wrestling or getting their kids into wrestling,” he said. “We’re willing to let everyone come in and help out and be part of it.”

Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at dcook@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.

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