BYU commit wins second state wrestling title

As a defensive lineman, Kesni Tausinga helped Bingham High School's football team win a second 5A state football championship last November. He also helped Highland's rugby team win a state title last May as well. Last week, the 6-foot-1-inch, 285-pound future BYU Cougar won the heavyweight state wrestling title for a second year in a row, becoming a champion of all trades.

Kesni Tausinga could open up his own jewelry store in South Jordan. Year after year all he does is collect rings from winning state championships, whether it's in football, rugby or wrestling. Last year as a junior, Tausinga won a state wrestling title by quickly pinning Tyler Larsen at the 1:44 mark in the first round, and did it again last week to secure his second state wrestling title.

"All my friends were there and my parents were there watching me, so they were there to see me taking it," said Tausinga. "It felt really good to win it again."

This time around, Tausinga beat Kerns High School wrestler Gus Lavaka in a heavyweight showdown of Tongan-sized proportions.

"He's a Tongan kid from Kerns High School and he's really good," Tausinga said about Lavaka. "He's only a junior and he's really tall and around 6'4" or 6'5". He's really strong. He's one of the strongest kids I've ever wrestled but he's new to wrestling. I think he also plays football up at Kerns and is a left or right tackle."

Tausinga pinned Lavaka in the third round.

Ranked first in the state of Utah, Tausinga is also ranked in the top 20 nationally in wrestling. He only lost one match this season, to Shawn Burton of Deer Park, Washington, a wrestler Tausinga beat last year in the Rocky Mountain Rumble.

Last year, Tausinga finished the season with a record of 37-3 and placed eighth in the national tournament that was held in Virginia. He earned All-American honors, and will again wrestle on the national stage this year.

"When you place in the top two in state, you go to nationals," Tausinga said. "You get an invitation to wrestle for nationals. Last year I placed eighth in the country. This year I'm hoping to do a little bit better and take it. I want to be a national champion."

After his attempt to become a national champion in wrestling, Tausinga will again change uniforms in an attempt to win another national championship in rugby.

"I'm just getting ready to go to go to nationals and then get ready to play rugby again," Tausinga said. "When I'm done wrestling I'm going to start playing rugby for Highland. This will be my third year and hopefully we can win it. We won my first year playing but lost last year to United. Hopefully we can win nationals this year for my last year playing."

Next Sunday, Tausinga is going to sit down with his bishop to focus on serving a mission. He wants to leave prior to BYU's fall camp so in two years he can return and resume his championship quests.

"I'm going straight on my mission," Tausinga said. "I'm going to interview to leave next Sunday, then I'm going to start on my papers and turn them in around June. Then in two years I'll come back and play football for BYU."

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