Terao Follows In Travis Lee’s Legacy

Josh Terao of Mid-Pacific won the national junior Greco-Roman wrestling title. Leah Friel photo

Josh Terao of Mid-Pacific won the national junior Greco-Roman wrestling title. Leah Friel photo

It’s a long way from Hawaii to Fargo, N.D. – more than 3,800 miles, in fact – but it didn’t stop 31 of Hawaii’s top young wrestlers from descending on the northern city last month.

By the time the young grapplers returned home from the Junior and Cadet National Champion-ships, 11 were All-Americans and three were national champions.

Two of the national titles were won by Teshya Alo, a young lady I’ve featured in this column a couple of times. Her outstanding performance in yet another setting is duly noted, but this story is about the other Hawaii champion, a young man who is on his way to making history.

Josh Terao, a senior-to-be at Mid-Pacific, thrilled the Hawaii contingent by winning the 120-pound Greco-Roman national title, besting a wrestler from Minnesota for the championship.

“There was so much noise; it was very exciting,” says Josh’s mother Debbie.

“Everyone from Hawaii is really close, and it’s awesome to have their support,” Josh told an interviewer after the match.

The title was the first national title for a Hawaii male wrestler since Olympian Travis Lee won Greco-Roman and Freestyle titles more than a decade ago.

When asked about that, Josh noted humbly, “I really look up to Travis. That means a lot.”

What made the accomplishment all the more thrilling was that Josh kept it in the family.

His brother David, a former two-time state high school wrestling champion and four-time state judo champ at Mid-Pac, and who now wrestles for American University in Washington, D.C., was one of his coaches throughout the championships.

“He’s been a big influence on me all my life,” Josh says. “He was with me when I started judo at the age of 5 and when I began wrestling in the ninth grade. I really look up to him.”

“Josh’s family support has been a major factor in his success,” says his longtime coach Ryan Sugihara. “Josh has been there for the extra training; and all that hard work has paid off. He has been an inspiration for all the young athletes who work with us.”

This past year, his junior season at Mid-Pac, Josh earned his third straight state title in wrestling and his third consecutive state championship in judo. According to HHSAA records, no one has ever won four straight state titles in both sports. Later this year, Josh Terao has a chance to become the first.

And what comes after high school? Well, Josh, will keep those family ties.

“Eventually, he’ll be wrestling together with his brother at American University,” says Coach Sugihara. Josh recently made his verbal commitment known and hopes to follow in his older brother’s footsteps.

It’s a long tradition in the Terao family to be the best. Josh and David’s father Lindy is a judo black belt. So is their grandfather Ernest, who is now in his 80s.

Now it’s Josh’s turn in the spotlight. And this year, the spotlight has a chance to become historic. It’s still more than six months until the state wrestling championships in early March and more than eight months until the state judo championships in early May.

You can be sure that Josh will have all the support the Terao family can muster in this quest for four and four more.

Yes, from Hawaii to Fargo and beyond, it’s all in the family for the Teraos.