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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 87° Today's Paper


HHSAA Hall of Honor: Kahuku’s Maia Esera

ANDREW LEE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER
                                Maia Esera of Kahuku celebrates after winning the state title at girls 225 on Feb. 25, 2023.
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ANDREW LEE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

Maia Esera of Kahuku celebrates after winning the state title at girls 225 on Feb. 25, 2023.

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Kahuku’s Maia Esera won the state title at girls 190 on Feb. 24.
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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

Kahuku’s Maia Esera won the state title at girls 190 on Feb. 24.

ANDREW LEE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER
                                Maia Esera of Kahuku celebrates after winning the state title at girls 225 on Feb. 25, 2023.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Kahuku’s Maia Esera won the state title at girls 190 on Feb. 24.

The trend has been noticeable in recent years.

More and more of the state’s top student-athletes are booking quite well. Their book work is translating into super grade-point averages, and though the Enterprise/HHSAA Hall of Honor selections are not based on GPAs, more elite athletes, at least since COVID-19, are managing time effectively.

The other trend is unique to the class of 2024: a large number of inductees are the youngest among their siblings. Maybe the focus of a family on that final child is a superpower, resulting in a 50-0, three-time wrestling champion like Maia Esera of Kahuku, or a first-time state wrestling champion from Lanai, Diesel Del Rosario.

A 50-0 record through three years of wrestling is incredible enough. Doing it as a senior with a torn labrum — possibly exacerbated by years of wrestling bigger, heavier competition — is a clear sign that Maia Esera’s level of pain threshold is not of earth.

She leaves it, almost always, on the mat. The two national titles. The three state championships — which might have been four if not for the pandemic.

It is, ultimately, the humility of a combat warrior, that she learned from her parents, particularly Tala Esera, a former Hawaii football player. The jolt of receiving the news of induction is still fresh.

“I was just really happy. It felt good to be recognized for all the hard work and all the things I’ve gone through,” she said.

Iowa Central awaits. Esera departs in mid-July.

“I’m going to miss high school sports. There’s really nothing like it, especially at Kahuku. The energy and the experience is just different,” she said.

“I’m going to make sure I stay on top of my summer workouts and also just try to have as much fun as I can before it all changes when I leave.”

One last summer of freedom is here.

“I’m looking forward to going to all my classmates’ graduation parties. Eating good food. Dancing,” she said.

Mom — Nadia Esera — will be letting go of her baby.

“Probably, my mom will cry at the airport. Then probably my little brother, Jedi,” Esera said. “Definitely a quiet little cry.”

She took the road less traveled with the help and sacrifices of her family.

It may be some time before another Kahuku wrestler accomplishes the same feats.

“For young wrestlers, my message is, it’s going to be a long and hard process, and you’re going to want to give up, but it’s truly rewarding when you push through the adversity,” Esera said. “And stick things through.”

Meet the 2024 inductees

>> Kamehameha’s Adrianna Arquette

>> Kalani’s Yuta Cole

>> Punahou’s Carly Cormack

>> Lanai’s Diesel Del Rosario

>> Kahuku’s Maia Esera

>> Kamehameha-Hawaii’s Maela Honma

>> Punahou’s Payton Jim On

>> Mid-Pacific’s Logan Lau

>> Hawaii Prep’s Brooke Samura

>> Mililani’s Belise Swartwood

>> Punahou’s Lulu Uluave

>> Kaimuki’s Jeremiah White

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