Naikoa Simao, wrestling for Waimea High School in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation, came home from Pocatello, Idaho, with a bronze medal for his fourth-place finish at the USA Wrestling Regional tournament.
“Naikoa finished higher than any previous KIF wrestler at the regional event,” said coach Mac Pigott, KIF wrestling tournament director.
The KIF wrestlers, including Matthew Tamanaha, Braeden Jensen and Naikoa, were part of Team Hawaii, which wrestled in dual-meet formats against state teams from throughout the Western region as well as individual tournament formats in three styles — Olympic, freestyle, and Greco Roman, as well as the US high school style known as American Folkstyle.
Pigott said with the win, Simao and Tamanaha will remain on Oahu through the end of June to continue training with Team Hawaii in preparation for the U.S. Amateur Wrestling Nationals, which will contest in Fargo, North Dakota, in July.
“This trip to Idaho has been fun,” Simao said. “It’s been my first trip to the Mainland since I was 4 years old. It has been fun training and competing with Team Hawaii. I met a bunch of guys and girls from Maui and Oahu, and learned there is a whole new level of wrestling here.”
Coach Jess Jensen attended the US Wrestling Regionals for the second time this year.
“I will tell you what,” Jensen said. “These Kauai kids look way better than they did last year when we were here. They are really competing.”
Pigott said all of the KIF wrestlers competed well, demonstrating their spring season training skills learned during the inaugural USA Wrestling spring tournament series on Kauai.
Pigott said the boys will be home next week for one week and will attend the Westside Wrestling camp on July 5 and 6 hosted by Waimea Baptist Church.
The camp will include cardio and strength training as well as six sessions of technique taught by Liberty University coach Allen Hackmann. On July 5, wrestlers from Oahu and Kauai will sleep over at the Waimea Baptist Church and will walk over to the historic Waimea Theater. The public is invited to the “Dinner and a Movie with Westside Wrestling” for a special showing of the newly released “American Wrestler.”
There is a suggested donation for the night which starts with dinner at 5 p.m.