Tiare Ikei, a Hawaii Technology Academy student who wrestled last season for Kaiser, won the bronze medal in the 49kg United World Wrestling Cadet Women’s World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, last week.
Ikei pinned Munkhgerel Munkhbat of Mongolia in the first period of the bronze medal match.
Earlier in the year, Ikei — the reigning 112-pound Hawaii state champion — won the U.S. women’s national championship in Irving, Texas, and the Pan-American championships in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
“I’m thrilled,” Ikei said in a news release. “I’ll take a bronze this year and keep on working throughout the year to get to the top of the podium.”
Losing was a plus in one way, she said.
“Sucks to say, but I think the loss (was the best thing that happened at the tournament),” she added. “That was pretty great for me because it’s still technically early in my career so I’d rather lose here than at the junior level, so I’ll use that as experience. And also being here with all the girls with the same mind-set, it’s great.”
Ikei said she will be moving to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., to train full-time under the coaching of women’s national team Coach Terry Steiner and assistant coach Clarissa Chun. Chun, a Roosevelt alumnus, won bronze at the 2012 Olympics.
Ikei said she is choosing to forgo her senior year of high school in Hawaii and a chance to defend her state title in hopes to make the Olympics in the future and focus solely on freestyle wrestling.
“This was a hard decision for me and my family to make, but it’s an opportunity I cannot pass up on and I owe a lot of people thanks for helping me get to where I am today,” Ikei said.
Ikei will be transferring from Hawaii Technolocy Academy to The Springs Studio, a blended learning charter school in which many of the Olympic hopefuls at the OTC attend.
She finished fifth in the Hawaii Prep World pound-for-pound rankings this year after sweeping Paani, Officials, OIA and states during her junior season.