First time the 2014 Oceania Championships will be hosted in Am Samoa
American Samoa is gearing up for the first time to hold the 2014 Cadet, Junior, Senior Oceania Wrestling Championship and the 2014 Youth Olympic Games Oceania Qualifying Tournament next month from March 18- 22 in the territory. Both tourneys are to be hosted by the American Samoa Amateur Wrestling Association and will take place at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium.
The Oceania Championships is one of five major Continental Wrestling Championships (ASIA, AFRICA, EUROPE, OCEANIA, PAN-AMERICA) held each year around the world prior to the World Wrestling Championships.
The YOG Oceania Qualifying Tournament is one of only five major world Qualifiers for wrestling for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games to be held in Nanjing, China in August.
In particular, this will be the first time that American Samoa will host the Oceania Championships and will be only the second Oceania country to ever host the YOG Qualifiers for the Youth Olympic Games.
The ASAWA is the official wrestling association of American Samoa and is under the umbrella of the American Samoa National Olympic Committee (ASNOC).
With the empowerment of our youth and the vision of economic development, both the Department of Youth and Woman’s Affairs and the Department of Commerce have stepped up to support ASAWA in hosting this historic event.
American Samoa earned the right to host this tournament through recent years of perseverance, hard work and successful results.
In 2007, during the South Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa, Team American Samoa earned a total of 21 medals including 3 Gold medals. Of those 21 medals, Wrestling earned seven, and of the three Gold medals, Wrestling earned one. In 2010 American Samoa qualified a wrestler to the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and in 2012 American Samoa qualified a wrestler to the Olympic Games in London.
In the past seven years, American Samoa has proven itself to be one of the three dominate wrestling countries in Oceania, next to Australia and New Zealand, earning over 150 medals in international competition, including over 40 Gold medals. This accomplishment puts wrestling as one of American Samoa’s highest medal earning sports in the territory — if not the highest.
Part of this increased success can be attributed to ASDOE’s introduction of wrestling into the American Samoa High School Athletic Association (ASHSAA) sports schedule during the 2010-2011 school year. Last Season the program registered over 150 wrestlers by the end of the season. Unfortunately the program was cut from the ASHSAA 2013-2014 Schedule along with a few others sports due to funding issues.
On the positive side, late last month Wrestling was given approval by ASDOE to operate as an unfunded sport so that wrestling students would have an opportunity to train and prepare for the Upcoming Oceania Championships.
Currently wrestling practices are being held daily after school at Leone High School, Samoana High School and the old VA building in Tafuna.
ASAWA is always looking for athletes of all ages, no experience necessary.
Those still interested in training and competing in this year’s Championships, should contact ASAWA, ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ethan Lake at 770-1006.
It should be noted that wrestling clubs in the territory have continued to work with young local wrestlers — despite funding issues. This has included wrestlers coming to American Samoa to lend a helping hand, such as Gold Medalist wrestler Mark Schultz, who came to the territory back in 2010 and NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame member Don Henry, who helped run a one week wrestling clinic last Summer.
Coach Henry is a long time Gannon University wrestling coach, who when he visited the territory was impressed with our wrestlers and stated at the time that they were strong, tough and very dedicated to the sport of Wrestling.
Of note, the American Samoa 2012 Wrestling Olympic qualifier CJ Floor, who is competing in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), in the amateur ranks, will not be here next month for the Oceania Wrestling Championships to defend his four Gold medals and one Silver he earned back in the 2011 Oceania Championships. Instead, he will be competing in Las Vegas at that time in an amateur MMA Championship fight, which takes place on March 22.
Also, there is no word yet if former Gannon University wrestler Sean Floor will be coming next month for the championships. Sean, who is the brother of CJ and an accomplished college and high school wrestler with over 500 career wins, came last Summer with Coach Henry to help conduct the wrestling clinics.
With the Oceania Wrestling Championships next month, to be held in American Samoa, local wrestlers should have the advantage and hopefully will earn medals.
Source: American Samoa Amateur Wrestling Association media release
Jeff Hayner, Samoa News sports reporter, contributed to this story