Salt River Indian Community Hosts Lori Piestewa Games - Wrestling
Wrestlers of the Salt River Ba’ag Wrestling Club participated in the Lori Piestewa National Native American Games July 9-10, held at the Pi-Copa Gym in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. A total of 14 wrestlers came out to represent the Community in the event.
The Ba’ag team finished second overall across all three wrestling styles—freestyle, folkstyle and Greco-Roman—the highest that the club has ever placed in the games. The club placed third in each of the last three years.
Joaquin Suniga of the Ba’ag Wrestling Club received the award for Outstanding Male Wrestler of the tournament, out of all the age groups and weight classes. Triple Crown winners, who were champions in all three styles and weight classes, were Curtis Lopez, Joaquin Suniga, Andre Enas and Hosteen Smith.
“We had all ages represented in the meet—the youngest one was 5 and the oldest was 23 years old,” said Na Humma, president and head freestyle/Greco-Roman coach of Ba’ag Wrestling. “We had some of our high school, junior high and elementary students wrestling in the event, and also others who go to schools outside of the Community.”
High school champion Jason James, captain of the Salt River High School wrestling team, missed the games because he was training for Nationals and preparing for his trip to Fargo, N.D. The Junior and Cadet National championships took place in Fargo July 19-26.
“As far as the wrestlers, this [was the first time for many of them] even [participating] in a competition; I think they did amazing as far as competing,” said Smith, the folkstyle head coach. “A lot of them were aggressive and took to the styles and picked up from there, faster and faster each time.”
Humma also commented on the growth of the wrestlers.
“It is really awesome just to see them grow as kids and their personalities and some attitudes,” Humma said. “Losing is hard for them because it is a very public thing, but they are great at accepting that, and throughout the years they have always been very humble in their victories. I never experienced anyone out there being a jerk in the last 10 years of coaching, and I’m glad for them.”