Prep wrestling: Nu'usa balances strength, smarts to succeed on mat
PJ Nu'usa is at home in the gym. Lifting weights with his wrestling teammates, he joins the jocular group and bench presses weights most people only could dream of lifting. He is a hulking presence with huge hands connected to arms that can manhandle almost anybody or anything.
At 5-foot-11 and 267 pounds, the East High senior is a thundering athlete who is looking forward to a future playing collegiate football but now is focused on dominating on the mats. A heavyweight standout with a 16-2 record entering the week, Nu'usa is a devastating wrestler able to dismantle opponents with one arm.
"He's got power like you couldn't believe it's Herculean," East wrestling coach Nick Hamilton said. "PJ is an unstoppable force in everything he does."
Nu'usa lifted his Westlake opponent with one arm and crashed him to the ground during a match at the Skyhawk Tournament in Salem Hills. To a hushed crowd, Nu'usa pinned the stunned wrestler in 49 seconds.
Hamilton describes the quiet giant as having unparalleled balance, incredible strength and fantastic leverage. More than his physical qualities, Nu'usa is a bright student in and out of the gym.
"For all of his brute strength, underneath it is a very bright and humble kid with such a promising future," Hamilton said.
Nu'usa's humility transcends sportsmanship. While a football player at heart, he is proud to round out a relatively young wrestling team.
"I give much respect to anyone who wrestles," Nu'usa said. "It's such a tough and physical sport, and it takes so much discipline to do it."
With a 3.7 grade-point average and a passion for calligraphy and drawing Polynesian artwork, Nu'usa would like to study art in college. He credits his ability to balance the physical and intellectual portions of his life to his mother. She drives him to excel in everything he accomplishes, and he works hard to make her proud.
"I don't want to disappoint Mom," Nu'usa said sheepishly with a smile. "She's very strict and wants me to get the best grades and do my best."
Nu'usa hopes that East High can get some of its wrestlers into the state tournament, but he said that he just wants everyone to do their best. Wrestling is just another challenge that Nu'usa has undertaken, and he is happy to have the opportunity to participate.
"As long as I am having fun and learning from my mistakes, I know that I am doing the best I can," he said.
About PJ Nu'usa
Nu'usa earned a spot on The Tribune's Class 4A all-state second team for football.
Nu'usa played center for the East Panthers football team.
A passionate artist, Nu'usa is an accomplished calligrapher and Polynesian artist.