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ASHSAA wresting season opens with big bang tournament


Last Saturday, the American Samoa High School Athletic Association (ASHSAA) wrestling season began with a ‘big bang’ with its first tournament involving nine schools that suited up teams; Leone, Samoana, Tafuna, Faga’itua, Nu’uuli VocTech, Kanana Fou, Fa’asao Marist, Manumalo Baptist and South Pacific Academy.

The toughest weight class of the day was the Unlimited Class, with wrestlers weighing in at over 264 lbs. Seven of these ‘giant grapplers’ were competing with one another to reign as ‘King of the Hill’ in the ‘Class of the Giants’.

One of these Unlimited wrestlers was 6’ 2 Faavaemalosi Atonio of Samoana High School (pictured with hand being raised), who at 370 lbs was the heaviest wrestler to step on the mat that day and is the heaviest in ASHSAA wrestling history.

Faavae, as his friends call him, is a Senior at SHS and has only been wrestling for a few short months. With a constant smile on his face, except when he is competing, Faavae moves exceptionally well for someone his size and has people constantly wondering, when they see him, why he isn’t in football, instead of the wrestling mat.

 “I always wanted to learn how to wrestle. One day when I saw the wrestling team practicing, I thought I would go and watch the first day, but I ended up practicing that first day. Now I am glad that I did. I like it and I really loved it when I won my first match last Saturday... that made me feel real good that day,” said Faavae.

Even though the best he could do was place 4th out of seven last Saturday, with the 1st place winner being the experienced wrestler out of Leone High School, Eric McMullin, Faavae said, “I will be even more ready than before, for my next match. I can’t wait.”

With just his size and determination alone, Faavae should make a ‘loud noise’ on the mat in ASHSAA wrestling that  no doubt everyone will definitely hear.

[photo: Jeff Hayner]