WAIMEA — The 2019 Westside Wrestling Camp concluded Saturday in Waimea.
Part of the camp’s itinerary was the 2019 Sam Silva Memorial Tournament. About 30 wrestlers competed across seven brackets in the tournament at the Clem Gomes Gym at Waimea High School.
Some wrestlers were as young as preschoolers and others were well-experienced adults.
“It went good. We’d like to see more of the high school-aged in particular come out, but we had a decent turnout,” said Mac Pigott, Westside Wrestling Club coach and Kauai Interscholastic Federation wrestling tournament director.
The tournament is dedicated to Sam Silva, who Pigott said helped him establish wrestling as a KIF-sanctioned sport. The upcoming season will be the eighth year of KIF wrestling.
“He helped all along. He remembered every KIF wrestler’s name on Kauai,” Pigott said. “When we came to Oahu, he always looked out for us. He helped coach the Kauai kids. In 2005, right here at this school, we had the very-first wrestling tournament on Kauai. He helped me run it.
“Unfortunately, he got a rare and fast-progressing cancer. It was three years ago now when we lost him. I thought that it was appropriate that I named this tournament after him.”
Some of the grapplers that competed Saturday were former Menehune wrestlers. Competing in the “legends heavyweight” division were Waimea High School alumni CJ Kahepu‘u and Ian Garcia.
“Oh, man. The feelings are all over the place,” Kahepu‘u said of wrestling again at his alma mater. “A lot of flashbacks and reminiscing. Just to be back on the mats with my old training partner, it’s definitely a great feeling. It’s great to be back at my origins and training with the guys that I started off with, and it’s awesome seeing how far we all came.”
Kahepu‘u was a 2014 Waimea High graduate. He lettered in wrestling, football, basketball, track and field and volleyball.
During his senior year, he placed sixth in the 195-pound bracket at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament. He, according to Pigott, was the first KIF wrestler to reach the podium at states.
Kahepu‘u is now an amateur MMA fighter with a record of 2-0.
“I want to use my foundation of wrestling and build myself as a martial artist in the MMA game,” he said. “Kind of using this wrestling club as my base, my foundation. Of course, if you know Coach Mac, he’s a walking book of knowledge for wrestling.”
Garcia was a 2015 graduate at Waimea High School. He lettered in wrestling and football.
“It feels great wrestling with my old training partner again,” Garcia said shortly after a match against Kahepu‘u. “Everything’s a little different because we’re a little older and I haven’t been around the sport in a while, but it felt good to be back out there with my old partners.”
Garcia since graduating has helped as an assistant coach with Waimea High’s wrestling team. He’s also interested in a career as a tattoo artist.
“I’d say a lot’s changed since I was in high school,” Garcia said. “I’m glad to see that more kids are interested in the sport. I hope that more kids do come out. The numbers that we had when I was in high school was a lot smaller than what the teams are now.”
Also among those who competed was 2019 Leilehua High School graduate Naikoa “Spanky” Simao. Simao spent his freshman and sophomore years at Waimea High School and lettered in wrestling, football, basketball and baseball.
At the HHSAA state wrestling tournament this year, Simao placed third in the 145-pound class.
“It’s been a very-humbling and long process,” Simao said of his high school career. “I got to take what I can get. I had the opportunity to move and get better on Oahu with a bunch of hammer wrestlers. I learned a lot from everyone up there. Now, I’m getting their knowledge and bringing it back to Kauai, so I can help all these kids get on their level and show that Kauai can compete and be just as good.”
Simao will continue wrestling on scholarship at Schreiner University, an NCAA Division III school in Kerrville, Texas.
“I’m thankful and blessed. Thankful that God gave me this opportunity,” Simao said. “My overall goal, like I said, is to give back to the Westside community — especially in wrestling.”
The Westside Wrestling Camp also featured clinics ran by Allen Hackman, a former assistant wrestling coach at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Stephanie Murata, a nine-time national wrestling champion, a former Olympian and a Worlds silver medalist.
- 35-44 pounds pre-second grade: 1. Makoa Afong; 2. Maile Afong; 3. Gates Millare
- 47-53 pounds first through third grade: 1. Kaonohi Armitage; 2. Kailana Prigge; 3. Heanu Sakamoto-Flores
- 47-63 pounds third through fourth grade: 1. Koia Sakamoto-Flores; 2. Kaonohi Armitage; 3. Kaiwahie Sakamoto-Flores
- 84-91 pounds fifth through ninth grade: 1. Ahonui Perreira; 2. Jayden Manobog
- 112-135 pounds seventh grade-open: 1. Catherine Plante-D’Amboise; 2. Kaya Akana; 3. Tematahira Perreira
- 145-160 pounds legends: 1. Paul Shindell; 2. Naikoa Simao; 3. Garren Millare
- 180-280 pounds legends: 1. Nelson Armitage; 2. CJ Kahepu‘u; 3. Kala Dusenberry-Lee
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.