Paige Respicio is smart enough to know that her greatest strength on the wrestling mat is also potentially her greatest weakness.
The senior athlete shared that paradoxical thinking in a Thursday interview before her Kamehameha practice.
“I have so much trust in myself that I know once I go on the mat, I will do what I’m supposed to do,” Respicio said. “That’s the most important part about being a wrestler, knowing what you’re going to do and what you’re going to hit.”
That was her answer when asked for what she feels is the top part of her successful game. And then she followed up with this when it was time to share where she needs the most work:
“Those very few moments when I’m not there mentally, I feel like everything is falling apart. It’s not, but I just think it is.”
A four-time ILH champion, Respicio is the subject of a feature story in today’s edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser you can read by clicking here. She is going for a third state title at the Texaco/HHSAA State Wrestling Championships that are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Blaisdell Arena.
If the top two seeds make to the 138-pound final, it could be the match of the tournament, according to Warriors coach Rob Hesia. Respicio is the top seed and carries with her the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s No. 3 pound-for-pound ranking. But her potential opponent in the final, Baldwin’s Waipuilani Estrella-Beauchamp, is also a two-time state champion and is No. 2 pound-for-pound.
Two fingers is all Respicio needs to show how many times she’s lost in high school. And she wants to leave it at that before graduating and heading off to wrestle in college.
One of those losses was to Estrella-Beauchamp’s teammate, Jahnea Miguel, three years ago in the 127-pound state final. The other was to Estrella-Beauchamp’s cousin, Lahainaluna’s Nanea Estrella, this year in the 138-pound Pa’ani Challenge final.
“Paige doesn’t like losing,” Hesia said. “She goes hard against whoever she is against. She has made her partners that are girls good and her partners that are boys good. She’s tough as nails.”
Competitiveness is only one part of the equation when it comes to Respicio as a person. She’s the type of person who is actively searching for intellectual meaning.
She likes poetry.
“I’m reading a book of poetry right now, “Born to Love, Cursed to Feel” by Samantha King Holmes,” she said. “It’s so into feelings, goes straight to the heart. I like poetry that goes deep down.”
Here is one Amazon review of the book: “(It’s) about love — the good, the bad, and the confusing. It touches on morals and how when emotions are involved it’s not as black and white. The poetry is frequently written in a narrative manner that evocatively pulls you in and makes you feel.”
Asked if she listens intently for lyrics in music, Respicio said, “That’s exactly what I do when I listen. It kind of makes me cry sometimes. There’s some music that gets me and I just tear up.”
One of those songs is “Moment 4 Life,” by Nicki Minaj that Respicio listens to, helping her to get pumped up before a finals match.
And then there’s the sereneness she found doing pottery — a class at Kamehameha this semester.
“It’s therapeutic, so quiet,” Respicio said. “You’re focusing on one thing, thinking about nothing else than making that pot and I like it. It’s relaxing because sometimes I get excited and irritated.”
For the match against Estrella-Beauchamp, Respicio is as prepared as she can be, according to Hesia, who noted that lack of preparation as a freshman cost her a chance at the state slam.
“Back then, if she prepared a little more, if she trained like she is training now, she would be going for her fourth state title,” the coach said. “You get what you earn in this sport. She’s learned it and prepared herself properly. So, the outcome is the outcome. Whether she’s the state champ or not the state champ, she’s in a good place.”