ASHSAA wrestling season kicks off
The American Samoa High School Athletic Association (ASHSAA) Boys and Girls Wrestling season begins this morning at Leone High School, Home of the Lions, who are the defending champions. The Lions are lead by Zena Iese who has been Head Coach since the debut of high school wrestling in ASHSAA back in January of 2011.
“Though we won the championships last year, it is whole new season for us this year with a new crew and very few returners,” said Iese. Two of the Lions successful wrestlers from last year who graduated, Eric McMullin and Joe Liukuey have returned and are assisting Iese with this year’s squad.
“The movement is catching on and a lot of our kids are starting to find out how exciting and challenging can be. We are also increasing focus on our girl’s wrestling team this season, looking to see if we get more involvement from them in the sport”.
“Everyday I am embedding in my team the life skills this sport teaches, like working hard, dedication, research, attitude and perseverance. I know they really look forward to competing with the wrestlers and coaches from their fellow high schools across the island,” he said.
He went on to say that it is going to be a wild ride for them this season and he knows that they are to have to battle tooth and nail for the top spot again due to other schools having outstanding wrestlers in their ranks. “That is just the way we like it. We look forward to seeing everyone there,” said Iese.
The Samoana Sharks will once again be suiting up a young team with mostly new wrestlers, they are however lead by Sr. David Martinez (220lbs class) who is expected to do well. The Tafuna Warriors are expected to do well overall as they did the first two seasons. Most of the Warrior wrestlers were constantly seen training all year round. Nu’uuli Voc-Tech who finished in the middle of the pack last season will be in many people’s mind the surprise team of the year. The Faga’itua Vikings will be returning a few stars from last season and is expected to finish in the top three.
The President of the American Samoa Wrestling Association (ASWA) Ethan Lake, who has been the driving force behind in implementing the sport into the Department of Education, is again working with ASHSAA in setting up all of the matches along working with the coaches of each team making sure that they are in sync with the rules and regulations in the sport of high school wrestling. Lake, who has always been enthusiastic about the growth of the sport in the territory spoke with Samoa News about this year’s third season of ASHSAA Wrestling.
“I am excited about this year’s season. The sport is growing well in American Samoa, with more and more kids interested in becoming wrestlers,” he said. “I invite every one out to watch these young athletes compete, especially the parents of the wrestlers. The wrestlers have improved so much the past couple of years, due to better coaching and everyone practicing all year round. If any parent out there wishes for their child to get involved in a good competitive sport where their child will get into really great shape, wrestling is the sport you should put them in. The younger you start them off at, the better they will become”.
“As always, we can always use support from the family members and the public in general. I want to thank all of the coaches and everyone else who helped get the kids ready for the season. Hopefully everything will go well,” said Lake.
In 2011, the Tafuna Warriors were the overall champions, with the Lions right behind them for second place overall. Last season, the Lions was able to come back and become champions. This year, they will try and defend their title. With the overall improvement since 2011, this could be any team’s year.
The teams competing this year are, Nu’uuli Voc-Tech Wildcats, Tafuna Warriors, Samoana Sharks, Faga’itua Vikings and Leone Lions. There will only be tournaments where each of the five schools will be competing. There will be no duel meets where you have one school going against another. Each tournament will be on Saturdays at different high schools with each having a scheduled starting of 8:00 a.m.. Here is the rest of the schedule. 1/26 Leone (underclassmen only/Freshmen and Sophomores), 2/2 Faga’itua, 2/9 Tafuna (underclassmen only/Freshmen and Sophomores), 2/16 Leone, 2/23 Tafuna, 3/2 Samoana/Championships.
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