Rob Hesia, Keith Laeha named wrestling coaches of the year

Kamehameha wrestling coach Rob Hesia pulled off a rare sweep at the state championships in 2019, then repeated the feat in '20. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Kamehameha wrestling coach Rob Hesia has been named the coach of the year by the Hawaii Wrestling Coaches Association at the national body’s meeting in Pittsburgh.

Hesia is the first Kamehameha coach so honored since Chris West in 2012-13. Hesia led the Warriors to state team titles for both the boys and the girls, the first sweep since Lahainaluna in 2015. Hesia helped Brant Porter and Kysen Terukina close the season with individual state crowns on the boys side and Alana Vivas, Ashley Gooman and Paige Respicio to the top step of the podium on the girls side.

Hesia joins a long line of Kamehameha coaches named the best in the state, joining West in 2013, Billy Valenciano in 2013, Kurt Williams in 1999 and Albert Chee in 1997. A Kamehameha coach has never taken the honor twice.

Keith Laeha of Kamehameha-Hawaii was chosen as the assistant coach of the year for the second time after earning the honor in 1997. He is the only BIIF coach to receive the honor since it began in 1996. Only Jeff Parker of Kahuku (three times) and Punahou’s Jimmy Takatsuka (twice) have been assistant coach of the year more than once.

Laeha helped the Warriors earn four state placers on the girls side, the school’s most since getting four in 2012 and a 13th-place finish in the team standings. The boys did not have a state placer this year and finished 27th.

Aiea’s Rick Williams edged Kevin Corbett of Leilehua (last year’s coach of the year) in voting for HWCA president and will assume that role with Corbett serving as VP.


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