After playing the last football game of his prep career, a 31-20 loss to Mililani in the HHSAA Division I state title game, ‘Iolani senior KJ Pascua wasn’t sure if he was done with football altogether.
The Raiders’ three-sport star was the focus of Tuesday’s prep feature in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
On the gridiron, he carried the load at running back for the Raiders on his way to All-ILH first team honors in 2014, ’15 and ’16.
However, his wrestling career may be even more promising. He was the state champion in the 145-pound division in 2015, and earned runner-up finishes in ’14 (138) and ’16 (152).
“I watched KJ play football for a couple of years and I’m not saying he’s small, but he’s not a big ILH running back,” ‘Iolani wrestling coach Walden Au said. “But his strength and finesse really stands out. In terms of how that stands out on the wrestling mat, KJ has never shied away from an opponent. Whatever KJ can do to benefit the team, KJ has always been open to doing whatever’s best for the team.”
Pascua, who is 5-foot-6, plans to apply to American University, Arizona State, Boise State, Hawaii, Oregon State, UNLV and Washington State, among others.
He is also a judo standout, where he won ILH titles in 2015 (161) and ’16 (178). However, it’s between football and wrestling for the sport he competes in at the collegiate level. Earning a scholarship for either will make the decision for him.
“If I get a scholarship for anything sports related, I’m gone,” Pascua said. “I’m gonna take it.”
Oregon State is his top choice for wrestling. If he doesn’t receive an athletic scholarship, walking on to UH in hopes of eventually earning a scholarship remains an option.
Regardless of what he chooses to pursue, Pascua is going to give something up, which isn’t easy for the relentless competitor.
“After the season, I was like ‘shoot, I really like football. I don’t know if I want to stop playing football,'” said Pascua, who finished tied for second on Oahu with 16 rushing touchdowns this season. “But when I was in football, I was kind of missing wrestling and I was like ‘I want to be wrestling in college.’
“No matter what, I’m gonna be missing something. It’ll always be a part of me.”