Aden Attao has made his home islands proud after finishing runner-up in the 2021 U.S. Marine Core Cadet/Junior Freestyle and Greco National Wrestling Championships in Fargo, North Dakota.
The 16-year-old is the grandson of Jesus and Ramona Attao of Saipan. He competed against over 5,900 of the best wrestlers in the U.S. from 47 states including Puerto Rico.
Attao, who resides in Boise, Idaho with his parents Jesse Attao and Stacey Hammar, competed in both styles in the junior (18-and-under) 285-lb division for a chance to win a national championship and Top 8 to earn All-American status.
In Greco he had 58 athletes in his bracket. Attao won five straight matches including the semifinals by pin or technical superiority (10+ point lead). In the junior Greco finals, he wrestled an opponent out of Illinois and fell short in the championship falling by pin. Attao finished as the 2021 Junior National Greco 285-lb runner-up.
In freestyle, the 6-footer had over 80 athletes in his bracket and lost his first match, 2-3, against New York. He, however, battled to win his next seven matches, then lost by a point to Oklahoma,17-18, missing All-American status by me match with a freestyle record of 7-2.
Last April, Aden also competed at the 2021 UWW Cadet World Team Trials to earn the right to compete at the World Championships. At trials he competed at 110 kg finishing second in Greco and fourth in freestyle. He trains Greco/freestyle year round with Suples Wrestling Club and has competed or trained in seven different countries around the world.
“I feel good about my second place finish. It took a lot of determination, effort, sweat, tears, blood. and hard work to get second. It may not have been what I wanted but that’s OK because I’m going to train and come back stronger next year,” he said.
Going to his 10th year in wrestling, Attao did almost every sport growing up but was drawn to the contact sports of wrestling, football, and judo the most.
“As I got older I started to enjoy the grind that is wrestling prior to ever stepping on the mat. Now that I’m older I still appreciate the grind and the process that goes into being able to compete at the level I do. Wrestling has blessed me with the opportunity to meet people and compete around the world,” he said.
Attao, who last visited Saipan in 2011 when he was 6 years old, thanked his coaches and family for providing his support system for his budding wrestling career and when he meant family it includes folks back in the CNMI.
“I would like to thank my family and coaches mainly because they have always been there supporting me and helping me throughout the process. Even thank you to my family on the islands for the continued support through messages and video calls. I always know they’re supporting me. I also have to give a big shout-out to my partners who have put in thousands of hours on the mat helping us all prepare,” he said.