Moanalua’s Boltyn Taam and Kamehameha’s Kanai Tapia are going to the mainland to participate in a heavy-duty national wrestling event — the Walsh Jesuit Ironman — Dec. 13-14 in Cuyahoga, Ohio.
“It’s a great tournament with a high level of competition,” Kamehameha coach Rob Hesia said. “Almost every number one high school wrestler attends. The amount of ranked wrestlers in the tournament is crazy. Every match is like a state final match. It’s great for Hawaii kids to get invited to compete in this caliber of a tournament. It helps get them exposure to the rest of the East Coast schools.
“To even win a match at the Ironman is a big deal. To get on the podium is even crazier. If you look at the past wrestlers that competed in the Ironman, you will see multiple D-I college national champions. The wrestling IQ in Ohio is off the charts. There are so many spectators in the crowd. They don’t even have wrestlers in the tourney and they are there watching and enjoying the sport.”
Kysen Terukina, a senior at Kamehameha who is going for a fourth state championship this year, took part in the Walsh Jesuit Ironman a year ago and placed seventh. He is not attending the tournament this time around.
“Kysen and his family really opened the doors for Hawaii wrestlers to attend the Ironman. He was the first kid from Hawaii to be invited,” Hesia said. “He did unreal placing in that tournament. He had eight matches over two days. It was crazy. I’m looking forward to attending again this season.”
Taam won the 160-pound state championship in the spring, after placing second to Zayren Terukina, Kysen’s brother, at 145 pounds in 2018.
Tapia finished in third place at 138 pounds in the 2019 states.
Kysen Terukina ended last season No. 1 in Hawaii Prep World’s pound-for-pound rankings. Taam finished ninth.