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Wrestling Club Ready to Roll

Not only are the youth of Molokai learning the latest “takedown” techniques and gaining endurance in the Molokai Wrestling Club, but they are also having fun and staying out of trouble.

“Wrestling to us is a learning experience to help us for the future,” said Mikayla Pico, Maui Interscholastic League (MIL) D-II all-star wrestler for Molokai High School (MHS), who wrestles in the club during the off season. “It teaches us life skills, being goal oriented and makes us a stronger person.”

These days, the group is gearing up for their first tournament of the season, held at Maui’s War Memorial Gym this Saturday, April 30 where they will compete against nine other teams.

The Molokai Wrestling Club, now in its 10th year, boasts about 80 young wrestlers ranging from toddlers to teenagers. The group, coached by Randy Manley and Benny Venenciano, began practice for this season about a month ago.

While the Molokai keiki are ready to use their moves at the upcoming tournament this weekend, their next match will be closer to home – Molokai will host a tournament at the Barn on May 7.  The state tournament, May 14, is the last for the club and will be at Lahaina Civic Center on Maui.

Poncie Raguindin is encouraging his four year old son, Reyn, to hone his wrestling skills early in life. Raguindin brings his MHS coaching experience to the club and is also helping the kids out. He wrestled in  high school and at the collegiate level for Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore.

“Wrestling at this level is about fitness,” he said. “They build fitness, learn technique and learn discipline by showing up to practice twice a week.”

Students in the club pay a one-time fee of $75, which covers insurance and travel expenses for two tournaments on Maui.

Charisse Manley has been in the club since its inception, and has gone on to become an all-star MHS wrestler. She now helps out the coaches and sheds her wisdom upon the younger wrestlers. 

“We (high school wrestlers) are being an example,” she said. “I started when I was little and you’ll get better as you get older. This also keeps kids out of trouble.”

Dickie Dowling said his son, Kaiea, 12 years old, is learning discipline and sportsmanship from wrestling club.

Makana Kaahanui, 11, joined the group because he loves wrestling and wants to improve his skills.

“I’d say it’s a really fun sport. It’s really not that hard to get there and try your best,” he said.

Caption: The Molokai Wrestling Club is gearing up for their first tournament of the season at War Memorial Gym on Maui this Saturday, April 30.

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