It can be hard to keep track of the Terukina wrestling family from Ewa Beach.
There are just too many of them. And, like any good wrestling clan, they’re constantly and good-naturedly trying to outdo one another.
Menlo College’s Blaysen Terukina one-upped all the others in his family in March by winning a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship in Wichita, Kan.
The accomplishment, in the 133-pound weight class, didn’t get a ton of publicity — buried under the COVID-19 assault on the world.
But it is a major accomplishment, one that the whole tight-knit wrestling community in Hawaii can feel good about.
NickAbramo.com caught up with Blaysen — via cellphone — last week. He’s been keeping in shape as much as possible, but also letting his body rest after the rigorous season. And he’s not done yet. When wrestling returns, he wants to duplicate his feat. Blaysen has one more season to go, as a senior, due to a redshirt year because of knee surgery in 2017-18, his second with the Oaks.
Terukina was fortunate to have netted the title right before COVID-19’s first big wave of shutdowns came.
“I got lucky on that,” Blaysen said. “It was one of the last (collegiate) national championships to be held (March 6-5). The women’s tournament the following week was canceled.”
Blaysen’s 2019-20 wrestling campaign started last summer at his dad’s (Darryl Terukina) Ewa Wrestling Club.
“There were some tough guys in there I was rolling around with, some high schoolers, my brothers,” he said. “That training all added up. Going into the season, I was prepared. After that, I was disciplined, worked out every day, ate smart, trained hard. I had to take care of my knee and do a lot of stretching. Of course, I had losses on the way. I wrestled a bunch of (NCAA) Division I guys and lost to most of them. But I hated losing. It motivated more. I studied film. All that mattered was winning the NAIA championship, so I didn’t take those losses personally, other than a way to get better.”
Terukina didn’t lose a conference match. Also he is a three-time Cascade Collegiate Conference champion who will be going for No. 4 when wrestling returns. Ironically, he faced the same guy (Austin Wallace-Lister of Warner Pacific or Portland, Ore.) he beat for the conference title in the 2-0 national championship match victory.
“That’s when I knew I could actually win it all,” he added. “What was better about it the second time (aside from the fact that there was more on the line) was that my parents and my two little brothers (Zayren and Kysen) were there. It was the first time my parents got to see any of their kids wrestle in college. It was in the middle of Kansas. A very cool experience. They definitely brought some mana (power, or life energy in Hawaiian) with them. Both times (against Wallace-Lister) it was really close, one or two points difference.”
Terukina said Wallace-Lister was more of a defensive wrestler, waiting for him to take a bad shot and then try to take advantage.
Kamehameha alumnus Blaysen Terukina defeated Warner Pacific’s Austin Wallace-Lister for the 133-pound national title in March. (Photo by Cam Kramer).
“But I really picked my shot and rode him out,” Blaysen added. “I knew all I had to do was take him down once and I knew he couldn’t take me down.”
Since March, Terukina has found it hard to get on the mat because of the health crisis, so he’s been hitting the beach and going on hikes and getting exercise with his brothers and friends.
“Training to maintain,” he said. “Going back (to real rigorous training) is always rough. It’s crazy how long it takes to (really) get back in shape.”
Before Terukina’s run to the NAIA title, brother Kysen was making huge headlines in Hawaii, winning his fourth state individual championship for Kamehameha — the first of the many Terukinas to do so. Kysen also got some big attention in Hawaii circles for signing with NCAA Division I national power Iowa State.
Every Terukina will tell you they are the best wrestler of family. Blaysen didn’t disappoint on this phone conversation, even when the question was directed differently: “Who is the most complete wrestler in the family, taking all skills and traits into consideration?” “After me,” he answered. “Probably Zayren (who is wrestling at Wartburg College in Ames, Iowa). We all have the takedowns, but Zayren is super good on top.”
But Blaysen knows Kysen’s college potential is yet untapped.
“It’s crazy man,” Blaysen said. “That guy is a freak athlete, a hard worker. I know he’s going to do great things at Iowa State.”
An older brother, Shayden — who is now an assistant coach at Kamehameha and who, like Kysen, also wrestled at Kamehameha and Iowa State — is right in the thick of training and teaching and grappling with the younger ones.
“I am proud that Blaysen is doing so well for himself,” Shayden said. “I want the best for him. I’m so glad he set out to make and achieve his goals.”
THE TERUKINA FAMILY’S HAWAII STATE WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
>> Kysen Terukina (4), Kamehameha (2020, 2019, 2018, 2017)
>> Zayren Terukina (2), Campbell (2018, 2017)
>> Blaysen Terukina (2), Kamehameha (2016, 2015)
>> Shayden Terukina (3), Kamehameha (2011, 2010, 2008)
>> Darrayl Terukina, father (2), Campbell (1984, 1983)
>> Ben Terukina, uncle (3), Campbell (1986, 1985, 1984)
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