KAPAA — One of the state’s most decorated high school wrestlers was on Kauai giving the island’s youth some pointers.
Honolulu native and Mid-Pacific Institute alumnus David Terao headed a wrestling clinic Friday at the Bernice Hundley Gym at Kapaa High School.
Terao has done a previous clinic on-island years ago with local club Westside Wrestling Club.
“It’s awesome to see the Kauai wrestling community grow as it has,” Terao said Friday. “I think there were two kids there. (Wrestling on Kauai) was still in its fledgling state. Now, I’m sure there were even more kids that couldn’t make it today. Thirty to forty kids, it’s good to see. … It’s been exponential. It’s great.”
He added: “The difference, besides just the numbers, there are kids here that are actually trying to get to that state title. It’s a possibility now. They’ve had kids in the past that have placed at states. So, why not go all the way? Hopefully, I can convince them that, ‘Hey, somebody in here should be the next state champion — the first (from Kauai).’ And maybe a couple more. It really doesn’t matter where you’re from in the sport, in all honesty. What matters is that you put the work in.”
Thirty-three high school wrestlers attended the class. Terao went through moves and techniques.
“He’s a role model, and I learned a lot from him,” said Waimea High School senior Corey Agena. “Everything he teaches is really good, and we know it works. So then, everything he says, I can learn from.”
Terao is a two-time Hawaii high school state wrestling champion and a four-time judo state champion. He went on to wrestle for American University in Washington, D.C. where he became an All-American. He graduated in 2016.
During his senior year at American University, Terao placed fourth in the 125-pound weight class at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in New York.
He was seeded 15th, according to American University Athletics.
“He was one of the crowd favorites at Madison Square Garden because of his style,” said Mac Pigott, Kauai Interscholastic Federation wrestling tournament director. “He has a very exciting, explosive style of wrestling. He likes to launch people. He doesn’t play it conservative. And if he gets ahead, he’s still looking to throw.”
Terao is a volunteer assistant coach for American University, where his younger brother, Josh, currently wrestles as well.
Though Terao is from Oahu, he does have family ties to Kauai.
“My cousins are from this area, and my dad’s side of the family is from this area,” Terao said. “I was born in Honolulu, but we used to come out here a lot.”
Kapaa High School hosts the inaugural Kapaa Open today, an individual bracketed tournament. Several wrestlers of the KIF as well as others from the neighbor islands will compete.
The tournament will begin 10 a.m. at the school’s gym. The KIF wrestling season starts in January.
“I do know, for sure, we got one boy coming from Molokai. We got a girl from Oahu who’s going to wrestle,” Pigott said. “This is our first attempt to do an open tournament. For instance, the Garner Ivey Maui Invitational, that’s a 15-year-old tournament. I think the Officials Scholarship Tournament is about that old, too. So, we’re late in the game of the sport of high school wrestling on Kauai.
“My idea was, and I’m going to try to do this every year, is have a clinician on a Friday and do it the Thanksgiving holiday. So, have a clinician Friday and a tournament Saturday,” he continued.
Agena, who wrestles in the 132-pound boys weight class for Waimea High School, will take part in today’s competition.
“It’s really cool. Every preseason, we have to travel to get matches. This is the first one where we have (a tournament) on Kauai,” Agena said. “We get a match before KIF, and guys actually came down from other islands. So, that’s really cool.”