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Tier 1 of Idaho Prep Wrestling: Aden Attao, Borah
Al Fontes sits down for a one-on-one profile of the Tier 1 heavyweight
Published: 9/8/2022 7:09:40 AM
Al Fontes
Contributing Writer
 

ADEN ATTAO – BORAH HIGH SCHOOL

TIER 1 OF IDAHO PREP WRESTLING

The sport of Wrestling is one of the oldest sports in the world. Only running and sprinting share parallel timetables. Without a doubt, it is among the most demanding full contact competitions in the world, both physically and mentally. I participated in several competitive sports throughout my youth and none required the mental fortitude to sustain as did wrestling.

On occasion, I have been questioned by family, friends, and colleagues about my appeal to wrestling – WHY WRESTLING? It’s too demanding, overwhelmingly tough, and often lacks the prestige that other sports provide. My response has remained the same. In simple terms, wrestling is the great teacher in life. When one enters the circle, it exposes all of their strengths and weaknesses. The experience can be humbling and is definitely the truth teller where one cannot hide, but necessary at times to grow in life. In my humble opinion, wrestling does not necessarily build character as much as expose the character you already possess.

 My first experience with wrestling was in the spring of 1978 and it was not promising. In fact, it has been etched in my psyche ever since. This experience alone provided me every excuse in the world to not pursue wrestling. While attending my middle school physical education (P.E.) class, I was placed at center mat with one of the tougher more experienced kids in the school for an exhibition match, which had about 50 of my classmates watching. Basically, it was an introduction to wrestling and a means to encourage students to sign-up for the upcoming season.

Being it was my first experience; I had no clue what to expect. In a matter of 20 seconds, I found myself on my back fighting hard and before I was able to make sense of the situation, the official (my P.E. teacher) hit the mat calling the pin. In a state of shock, I recall being very embarrassed, humiliated among my friends and classmates, and at loss to comprehend what had just happened to me. Regardless, in the midst of this new athletic experience, there was a sense of fight in me, a critical decision point to either give up or move forward.

Without much hesitation, I chose to move forward and signed up for the wrestling team. Now entering a new trajectory in my life, an uncharted territory, I had no clue what to expect. Fast forward to 2022 and the sport of wrestling remains an integral part of my life; coaching, writing, promoting, and giving back to what has been given to me. What I have learned from wrestling since an early age has set a foundation that is not only solid, but has provided the necessary tools to build upon in the course of my life. No other sport has humbled me as much as wrestling, and for the record, I eventually closed the gap with my first opponent in P.E. class and beat him a few years later.

 Throughout my many years being involved with wrestling, I have observed my share of talented wrestlers at all levels. Since moving to Idaho just over two years ago, I am truly impressed with what is happening in the Gem State, especially with the number of national level “ALL-AMERICAN” wrestlers being produced in a small population that is gradually edging towards two million (Note – per capita, Idaho is among the top small states in the country). The greater Boise metropolitan is among the most densely populated regions in the state and has produced 50% of the All-American honors at Fargo in the last two years. Among this talented pool of wrestlers is Aden Attao from Boise. Competing for Borah High School and the Suples Wrestling Club, Attao not only took the state by storm in 2022, but also the nation and world. In a matter of months, Attao went from a Hidden Gem in Idaho to one of the most talked about Heavyweights in the country and is now a member of the World Elite.

 Since an early age, Attao has been attracted to full contact sports. Around the age of seven, his mother took him to a local camp held at Borah High School and from day one he immediately fell in love with wrestling. Every opportunity Attao had to practice, learn new techniques, or compete, he delved into it.

Approximately two years later, Attao joined the Suples Wrestling Club (WC) in Boise, which unbeknownst to him at the time, immediately placed him on a trajectory to the world level. The Suples WC (Suples System inclusive) is owned and operated by World Silver Medalist and Olympian Ivan Ivanov of Bulgaria, now General Manager of USA Greco-Roman Programs. Also, an integral part of the Suples coaching staff is Bulgarian National Champion (multiple), European, and Junior World Team Member Dimitar “Mitko” Georgiev. This coaching duo is among the top instructors of Greco-Roman style wrestling one could ever be a part of. Attao had hit a Gold Mine!

 The Suples System is among the most demanding training regimens in the country and world. The primary styles of wrestling taught include international Greco-Roman (GR) and Freestyle (FS). By design, the rigors of this training regimen is a blueprint to prepare athletes for the high demands and complexities of competing at the international world and Olympic level. To date, Suples WC has produced many age group National Champions, All-Americans, Pan American and world level medalists. Even at the young age of 9, Attao was up for this challenge and instantly gravitated to the rigors and demands of this system. By age 12, he had stepped up his game on the mat and first made it known to his coaches and family that his ultimate goal in wrestling is to win an Olympic Gold medal someday.

 

“Aden Attao is one of the very few wrestlers from Suples Wrestling Club who has been truly following the Suples System for many years.”

Ivan Ivanov

 

Despite his commitment to reach the pinnacles of the sport, much like all journeys in life, there will be struggles and periods where demons of doubt may surface. From the age 12 to his early teens, Attao experienced a major growth spirt, which made it very difficult for him to adjust his body type to the heavier weight groups coupled by the increased level of competition at the Cadet level. Nonetheless, in the midst of his struggles, Attao had faith in himself and believed in the Suples System, persevered during the COVID period, and by the time he reached the Junior age group level, the fruits of his hard work were beginning to pay off as he grew into and settled in the heavyweight division. This was definitely a turning point in his young mat career.

During the 2021 tournament cycle, Attao won multiple Idaho State Greco-Roman titles, the Western Regionals (finalist in both styles), earned a trip to the Junior Greco-Roman finals at Fargo (All-American), and placed in the top four in both styles at the United World Wrestling (UWW) Cadet World Team Trials.

Making significant progress in just one year, Attao experienced another setback when he sustained an injury on the last day of practice at Suples WC in late August. At this point in his wrestling career (entering Junior year), he had not competed for his local high school at Borah, but as a result of his injury needed an additional setting to increase his training regimen along with his commitment to the Suples WC. After talking with his friends at school, he consulted with the school’s new Head Coach, Nick Beuter, about the idea of him competing for Borah with the caveat that he remain in sync with his training regimen at Suples WC. According to Attao, “It was a mental and physical piece knowing I can still wrestle.” With Coach Beuter agreeing to Attao’s request, It didn’t take long for the word to get out that he was planning to compete for Borah, a decision that caught the attention of many in Idaho and abroad. Myself included!

Although Attao had made his commitment to wrestle for Borah, he was limited to what he could do in the practice room for the first phase of the season. Doctor’s orders were to remain non-weightbearing on his injury for at least 9 weeks, which meant he was not cleared to compete without restrictions until the middle of December. His first major competition out of the gate was the highly competitive Reno Tournament of Champions (RTOC), which is traditionally held the week before the Christmas Holiday. Having attended this event in years past, I looked forward to attending again after a 20 year hiatus, especially knowing that Attao was going to compete. It was a great opportunity to observe Attao in his first major prep tournament, as well as other top competitors in the Western United States.

Without a doubt, his performance throughout the competition did not disappoint! From the preliminary rounds up to the championship final, Attao dominated his opponents. At first whistle to the last, it was action, action, and more action from Attao, while the norm in the heavyweight division being slower paced power matches.

If truth be told, I wasn’t the only person in the Reno Events Center taking notice. Attao’s wrestling style caught the attention of many spectators and coaches in attendance and in the championship final all eyes were on the center mat. Facing nationally ranked Harley Andrews, a much bigger kid from Oklahoma, it did not intimidate him one bit. Prior to RTOC, Attao had wrestled Andrews the previous summer at Fargo and lost by a couple of points in the blood rounds in the Junior freestyle division, just missing the All-American medal rounds. Despite being the smaller of the two, Attao was very motivated and did not back down.

Throughout the match, he pushed the pace hard, exchanging takedowns, escapes, and reversals. It was obvious midway through the match that Andrews did not feel comfortable on the mat with Attao and wanted the match to finish ASAP. Trailing for a good percentage of the match, Attao just missed scoring a winning takedown in the waning seconds of the third period, once again losing by the slimmest of margins. Despite this loss, his overall performance at RTOC put the country on notice and left no doubt that he could compete with the best prep high school heavyweight wrestlers in the country.

 

“One of the really special things about Aden, is his ability to wrestle free, and wrestle with confidence and poise. And it's because he trains that way. He trains his mind just as much as his body and his technique, and it really shows when he competes. He goes out there and just lets it fly…He has fun in competing, training, learning, and getting better in every aspect of the sport. Aden is really fun to watch, both as a spectator and as a coach. It has been a real joy being in his corner and having him part of our team. Aden has the ability and the tools to go very far in this sport.”

 

  • Nick Beuter, Borah Head Coach

 

Entering the post high school phase in late February, Attao was now healthier, stronger, and back in full form. His performances thus far had placed him ranked among the top heavyweight wrestlers in the country. In short order he dominated his competition at Districts and in the 5A division at the Idaho State High School Championships in Pocatello, winning his first three matches by fall and then shutting out returning state finalist, Ian Allen of Highland High School by a 4-0 decision in the final. Now ranked in the top 15 nationally, Attao wasted no time and prepped for the 2022 Greco and freestyle circuit with the goal of earning a Fargo title in both styles and making the U20 World Team.

Easily winning titles in both styles at the Idaho Junior State Championships, Attao added to his already impressive resume by earning double All-American honors (GR/FS) at the US Open U20 Championships in Las Vegas, taking home the title in Greco. He then improved upon his top four finishes at the 2021 UWW World Team Trials by earning a spot on the U20 Greco World Team, as well as earning All-American honors in freestyle. Additionally, he won the Folkstyle Junior Nationals at the USAW High School National Recruiting Showcase and shortly thereafter followed with a Gold medal performance at the U20 Pan American Games in Oaxtepec, Mexico.

With greater challenges ahead, Attao was more than ready to face the intense competitions of the 2022 Junior Fargo Nationals and U20 World Championships being held in Sophia, Bulgaria. The Fargo Dome, an indoor athletic stadium located on the campus of North Dakota State University, has been the home of the 16U (formerly Cadet) and Junior Nationals since 1993. It has been stated by many in the wrestling circles across the country that the Fargo USA Nationals is one of the biggest and most competitive high school level competitions in the world. Having already earned Fargo All-American honors in 2021, Attao was very determined to bring home the coveted “STOP SIGN” championship trophy this year.

This year’s Fargo competition was expected to be deep in talent and large in participant levels, which for the last decade or so has steadily been increasing with this year’s numbers reaching 6,646 participants and declared the largest to date (since 1971). Primed and ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead, Attao ascended upon the Fargo Dome and left no doubt that he was for real and a force to be reckoned with. After an intense week of competition, he brought home two “STOP SIGNS,” winning both styles in championship form. As a result, he compiled an overall record of 12-0, outscoring his opponents 115 points to their 26 (in Greco, Attao outscored his opponents 31-1). Additionally, Attao was awarded the USA Wrestling Triple Crown for winning titles in Folkstyle, freestyle, and Greco-Roman in the same season. Attao was joined by teammate Mack Mauger of Blackfoot, who also won the Triple Crown for the second year in a row. This is not an easy task considering only 9 wrestlers have won 11 Junior Triple Crowns since the award was established in 2007.

The time gap between Fargo and the U20 World Championships was about a month and did not provide Attao a great deal of time to celebrate his Fargo experience or even relax. True to form, he immediately put his nose to the grindstone and began preparing for his first world championship and an opportunity to visit the home country of his Suples coaches, Ivan and Mitko. With approximately a decade of training in the Suples System under his belt, Attao was ready, both mentally and physically, to face the intense challenges of competing at the international level.

In the preliminary round of the 130 kg weight division, Attao did not waste any time on the mat and dominated his opponent Parvesh of India, 12-4. He then followed with a fall (3:00) in match two over Hungary’s Adolf Bazso, but met his match in the semi-final, losing to European Champion Mykhailo Vyshnyvetskyi of Ukraine, the eventual Gold medalist. The loss in the semi-final placed him in the Bronze medal match against Fekry Eissa of Egypt, the 2022 Champion of the African Championships. Keeping to his form, Attao controlled the pace of the match and capitalized on every opportunity to score, winning by a significant margin, 11-3. Earning a world level medal was definitely a huge achievement for Attao, an impressive milestone on his journey, and one to celebrate with family, friends, and his coaches. Job well done!

In summary, Attao has established himself as one of the top prep heavyweights in the country and now the world stage. Since an early age, Attao has been on a mission to achieve his ultimate goal of winning Olympic Gold. Training under the legendary Ivan Ivanov and Mitko Georgiev at Suples WC has prepared him for the future challenges that lie ahead in his journey. His energy and enthusiasm on the mat is incredible to observe and reminds me of 2016 Olympian Robby Smith. Currently ranked #4 in the national high school rankings by FLO Wrestling, Attao enters his senior season ready to win another Idaho State title, prep for college opportunities, and continue on his journey to pursuing Olympic Gold.

An exceptional student at Borah High School, Attao maintains a 3.5 GPA, has earned multiple honor roll recognitions, and has been part of the Honors Society. From what I have been able to observe thus far, Attao has what it takes to achieve his dreams and much more. FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!!!

I recently had the opportunity to meet up with Aden Attao and discuss his wrestling experience, Suples, Borah High School, and future outlook in life. Below is my Q&A interview.

 

Q&A INTERVIEW WITH U20 WORLD BRONZE MEDALIST ADEN ATTAO

 

 

HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED IN THE SPORT OF WRESTLING?

ATTAO I have always been drawn to the contact sports. When I was about 7 years old, my Mom took me to a kids camp at Borah High School and I immediately fell in love with the sport of wrestling.

 

WHO HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN THE SPORT?

ATTAOIvan Ivanov of Suples Wrestling Club. He has been my biggest influence, not just in wrestling, but in life.

 

DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE AT SUPLES TRAINING UNDER WORLD LEVEL COACHES IVAN IVANOV AND MITKO GEORGIEV.

ATTAOI have been wrestling for Suples since I was around 8 or 9 years old. The training has always been top notch with the intent to train to the world level.

 

LAST SEASON WAS YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE COMPETING FOR BORAH HIGH SCHOOL. DESCRIBE YOUR ACADEMIC AND WRESTLING EXPERIENCE THUS FAR.

ATTAOMy teachers have been super great, always working with me to insure I complete all my assignments, especially when I am traveling for wrestling. Last year was my first season wrestling at Borah High School. I enjoyed the team environment and making memories with new teammates and coaches.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE UPCOMING SEASON AT BORAH?

ATTAOMy goal is to win another Idaho State title and not be scored upon.

 

HAVING HAD SOME GREAT SUCCESS AT THIS POINT IN YOUR CAREER, DESCRIBE YOUR TRAINING ROUTINE AND YOUR OUTLOOK IN THE YEARS AHEAD.

ATTAOMy training has always been the same…To train and prepare for the world level. My goal is to make an Olympic team in 2024 with the ultimate goal of winning the Gold.

 

DO YOU HAVE AMBITIONS OF COMPETING AT THE COLLEGIATE LEVEL?

ATTAOYes, with the intent of integrating my college training with Greco and freestyle. All my training is geared towards the goal of winning a World and Olympic title.

 

IS THERE AN OLYMPIAN, COLLEGIATE LEVEL WRESTLER, COACH OR SOMEONE OUTSIDE OF THE SPORT OF WRESTLING THAT YOU WANT TO ASPIRE TO BE SOMEDAY?

ATTAOIvan Ivanov and Mitko Georgiev at Suples WC. Also, I look up to Josh Nolan, the Head Coach at Compound Wrestling Club in Atlanta, Georgia. He’s a great coach, mentor, and person.

 

WHAT LIFE LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED IN WRESTLING THAT APPLIES IN YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIFE?

ATTAOBeing able to experience a set back and having the will power to push through it and adjust your plan to get your desired outcome. Also, picking the people in your corner that are going to support you and have your best interest in mind.

 

DO YOU HAVE A SAYING, PHILOSOPHY OR MOTTO THAT YOU LIVE BY?

ATTAO“Have fun and let it fly.”

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A YOUNG WRESTLER WANTING TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THE SPORT OF WRESTLING OR IN LIFE?

ATTAOHave fun, believe in the people around you, and trust in the process and grind.

 

IT’S MY UNDERSTANDING THAT YOU ARE ACTIVELY INVOLVED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY. PLEASE EXPLAIN.

ATTAO Yes! I volunteer with the registration process at our local kindergarten. During COVID, I volunteered at the local food pantry in Boise. Last year, I was a yard duty monitor at Hillcrest Elementary in Boise.

 

OUTSIDE THE SPORT OF WRESTLING, WHAT OTHER GOALS DO YOU HAVE IN LIFE?

ATTAOGo to college, earn a degree, and raise a family someday. I also want to be a great role model for others to look up to.

 

ONCE YOU ARE DONE COMPETING, DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO STAY INVOLVED WITH WRESTLING?

ATTAOYes, I want to coach Greco…Stay involved and give back.

 

WHAT HOBBIES AND FAMILY FUNCTIONS DO YOU ENJOY MOST?

ATTAOI like to spend a lot of time in the outdoors…Stay active! My family has a lot of get togethers. I enjoy being around family and friends.  

 

 ADEN ATTAO ACADEMIC AND ATHLETIC PROFILE

SCHOOL: Borah High School, Boise (5A)

WRESTLING CLUB: Suples WC, Boise

GRADE: 12 (Class of 2023)

WEIGHT: 285

 

NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL RANKING – TOP 20

  • #4 – FLO Wrestling – August 2022

 

ACADEMIC ACCOLADES

  • GPA: 3.5
  • Honor Society
  • Multiple Honor Roll recognitions

 

WRESTLING ACCOLADES

  • U20 World Championships – Bronze Medalist ‘22
  • Pan American Gold Medalist – Greco-Roman ‘22
  • USAW Triple Crown Winner ’22
  • Fargo Junior National Champion – Greco-Roman ’22 (ALL-AMERICAN)
  • Fargo Junior National Champion – Freestyle ’22 (ALL-AMERICAN)
  • USAW HS National Recruiting Showcase Champion ’22 (ALL-AMERICAN)
  • US Open U20 National Champion – Greco-Roman ’22 (ALL-AMERICAN)
  • US Open U20 All-American – Freestyle ’22 (ALL-AMERICAN)
  • Idaho State Junior Champion – Greco-Roman ‘22
  • Idaho State Junior Champion – Freestyle ‘22
  • Idaho State High School State Championships (5A) ’22 (Borah H.S.)
  • Fargo Junior All-American/Finalist – Greco-Roman ’21 (ALL-AMERICAN)
  • UWW Cadet World Team Trials – 2nd Place (GR) ’21 (ALL-AMERICAN)
  • UWW Cadet World Team Trials – 4th (FS) ’21 (ALL-AMERICAN)
  • Western Regionals Junior Champion – Freestyle ‘21
  • Western Regionals Junior Greco-Roman – 2nd Place ‘21
  • Reno Tournament of Champions – Finalist ’21 (ALL-AMERICAN)
  • Idaho State Cadet Champion – Greco-Roman ‘20
  • Idaho State Junior Champion – Greco-Roman ‘20








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