Kimo Leia poses with the wrestling coaches from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvannia. Leia committed to the school and will attend next year.

Selma High senior Kimo Leia has been hitting the mat for 12 years, and it's just paid off for him in a big way. 

Recently he accepted a scholarship from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which has not only one of the best wrestling programs in the United States, but also an excellent engineering program — which is Leia's preferred field of study. While there, he says he'll primarily be in the 138 lb. weight class. 

Leia's wrestling career started when he was 5, learning under his father, Joseph. He entered his first tournament when he was 6 and won his first when he was 7. Since then, Joseph says that his son has won seven national tournaments, along with numerous smaller ones over the last decade. 

“He’s been one of my coaches my whole life. He helped me with taking me to practice – I take myself now, but when I was little, he would always take me, work with me, and it’s just been my life pretty much," Leia said of his father. "It’s just been wrestling and school, and my dad has contributed a lot to it.”

Now, as Leia gets ready for next year, both father and son are thrilled, seeing it as the payoff for years of hard work. 

“This has been our dream for years," Joseph said. "We’ve been working since he was five or six years old for something like this.”

“Knowing that all the work I’ve put in pays off eventually – every day I train, every day I’m working towards something, and just being on that mat and being able to perform – it’s what I love to do,” Leia said. 

Leia will start at Lehigh University next year after graduating from Selma High. 

With scholarships, grants and other student aid, he'll be entering Lehigh with over $370,000 in educational funding. 

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