Kahuku senior Teniya Alo sets her sights on 2 goals
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
Kahuku’s two time state champion wrestler Teniya Alo.
Once, they were sisters fighting in the living room. Someday, they could be representing the United States at the Olympics.
That’s the hope anyway. Actually, it’s more than that. It’s a pact thought up and agreed on by Teniya Alo and her older sister, Teshya, and there is still some substantial heavy lifting ahead to make it a reality for 2020 in Tokyo.
“We planned this since we were 6 or 7 years old, so I tell her that she better follow though with it,” said Teniya, a senior wrestler for Kahuku this winter. “I tell her she better push herself. She tells me the same thing. We’re going to be partners for life and keep on training.”
To think that it all started with some roughhousing followed by former wrestler Leroy Alo, their dad, teaching them some moves.
“I’m so glad that happened,” Teniya said during an interview Friday at the Hawaii State Wrestling Officials Association Scholarship Tournament at Leilehua. She did not participate due to an ankle injury, but she is No. 1 in Hawaii Prep World’s pound-for-pound rankings and a two-time state high school champion.
>> Sport: Wrestling and judo >> Class: Senior >> Weight class: 138 (or 132) >> Favorite subject: History >> Possible career paths: Psychology, criminology >> Other interests: Singing and playing ukulele >> Other sports: Jiu-jitsu, power lifting, soccer, gymnastics >> Parents: Leroy and Cherise Alo
>> National wrestling titles: 11 >> State high school wrestling titles: 2 (2015, 2017) >> Non-high school state wrestling titles: 6 >> ILH wrestling titles: 2 (2015, 2016) >> OIA wrestling titles: 1 (2017)
>> National/interntational judo titles: 16 >> State high school judo titles: 2 (2015, 2017) >> ILH judo titles: 2 (2015, 2016) >> OIA judo titles: 2 (2017)
>> National jiu-jitsu titles: 4 >> State jiu-jitsu titles: 10
>> National power lifting titles: 1 >> State power lifting titles: 2
Teniya looks up to her big sister, a four-time state champ at Kamehameha who went to the Olympic Trials, but did not make the U.S. team for Rio in 2016.
There may come a time when Teniya doesn’t have to actually look up.
“When we were younger, yeah, she beat me up,” Teniya said. “She’d go easy, then I’d give her a tougher time and she would beat me up after. Right now (drum roll), I’m going to say I think I can beat her. I’ve slowly started to take her down here and there.”
Taking Teshya down is one thing, beating her is another.
“I’d be like all celebrating and she would get mad and pin me right after that,” Teniya added. “My goal this year is to take her down two times, and then three times, and I’m going to try not to get taken down, try not to get pinned by her. I set little goals when I’m wrestling. I know if I can beat her I can beat anyone. That’s my goal, to beat my sister. It’s not in a mean way. It’s because she’s the best, and then I’ll be the best.”
Teniya is likely to wrestle at 138 pounds when she returns to real matches, but 132 is also possible. She is working on her upper body while her ankle heals. Teshya, a sophomore at Colorado Mesa (taking online classes), is recovering from shoulder surgery. The sisters occasionally go to camps at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado.
The Alo family moved to Hauula from Liliha recently, and Teniya plans to go to the University of Hawaii after graduating from Kahuku. If she goes to UH, it might be on a part-time basis so she can continue to take mainland trips.
In the meantime, Teniya will be going for a third high school state wrestling championship this spring. She missed out on getting all four, placing third as a sophomore, when she had shoulder surgery before and then after the state meet.
“I didn’t want to hold off and I wanted to finish that year,” Teniya said. “I was so focused on winning states four times. I didn’t give myself time to recover and kept on practicing.”
The shoulder has recovered and Alo can’t wait to get back to serious training.
“It’s funny. When I’m practicing, I’m suffering,” she said. “I feel like throwing up at the end of practice from working so much. Then, when I’m not practicing, I miss it and I want to go back to it.”
Alo, who transferred from ‘Iolani after her sophomore year and who also has two high school state judo titles, credits Kahuku with helping her build stamina.
“Kahuku is known for conditioning,” coach Moke Galletes said. “We train a lot. If you look at our matches, we have a lot of wrestlers making it through the third period.
“Everybody knows Teniya is definitely a talent, so having her in our room just makes everyone better. Not many kids from Hawaii get to have the experience and knowledge she has, and she shares it with everyone in our room. She’s a great kid, too. Happy-go-lucky and really humble. Easy to work with, very coachable and gets along great with our team, meshes well, and our kids love her.”
Aside from wrestling her sister in a tournament, Teniya considers her match against Maya Nelson, who won the Junior World title in August, as the toughest.
“I did better than I thought I would,” said Teniya, who also has numerous international, national and state (non-high school) championships in wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu and power lifting. “I got teched, but I was beating her in the first round. I surprised myself. I was trying to score and to not get scored on, but it was so hard to do. I got so pumped, because if I can score on her, I can beat her.”
And then there’s those two other important things. The Olympics.
And beating Teshya.
“It just might happen,” Galletes said. “It’s that sibling rivalry. Teshya has greater strength, a lot stronger as opposed to Teniya. Teniya is the technical one of the two. That’s not to say Teshya doesn’t have a technical set, too. Who knows? Age may catch up with Teshya.”