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LOPEZ, AQUINO GRAB GOLD IN OCEANIA

Guam is gold after some stellar performances by wrestlers Joey Lopez and Mia Aquino, respectively, at the 2014 Oceania Championships held from March 22-23 in Apia, Samoa.

By Kolby Chang

Guam is gold after some stellar performances by wrestlers Joey Lopez and Mia Aquino, respectively, at the 2014 Oceania Championships held from March 22-23 in Apia, Samoa. As it seems to be the case with most local athletes competing aboard, the two wrestlers were at a size disadvantage against their playing field. That, however, did not stop them taking the top spot against some of the best grapplers in the region.

Aquino. (courtesy photo

Mia Aquino (blue) studies her opponent looking for vantage. (courtesy photo

Upon arriving at the championships, Lopez discovered there were no Greco-Roman competitors in the 66-kilogram weight class so he decided to go up a weight class and garnered gold after pinning a wrestler from Tonga.

“I did what I had to do. I had a good camp for this. I owe it all my training partners and my coaches for the results,” the Spike 22 representative said.

Aquino, a sophomore at Simon Sanchez High School, topped the 60-kilogram weight class in girls’ freestyle wrestling division. Aquino wrestled all three of her matches against taller, heavier opponents and also qualified for the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games this August in Nanjing, China. What’s more impressive is Aquino is used to wrestling collegiate style but she still managed to adapt her game and take home a gold medal against some strong competition.

“I went up against New Zealand, Kiribati and American Samoa,” Aquino said.

With the Oceania championships now complete, Aquino is setting her sights on China and trying to balance a hectic schedule for a 16-year old.

“It’s quite hard. I have to juggle it with my honors [classes] and the rest of my classes and music,” Aquino said.

Jonah Whitt (red) also competed in the tournament. (courtesy photo)

Jonah Whitt (red) also competed in the tournament. (courtesy photo)

Lopez, meanwhile, is working towards his ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics. He appears to be on the right track after winning his second consecutive gold medal and a third overall at the Oceania championships all while showing no signs of slowing down.

“Next on the horizon for me is the Atlas Oceania tournament in the Philippines, I’ve got the Micronesia Games in July and then the [FILA] World Championships in September,” Lopez said.

Aquino thanks her teammates at Simon Sanchez, her coach and her sister for their support.

“I’d also like to thank my family on here Guam. They’re the biggest support and my biggest sponsors along with my family in Hawaii; my uncle Nano and my auntie Leslie,” Aquino said.

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