Wooching shines for USA Se­lects

West Hawaii Today - - Sports - BY J.R. DE GROOTE jde­g­roote@west­hawai­ito­day.com

Psalm Wooching is a long way from home, but he’s never been closer to mak­ing his dream a re­al­ity.

Wooching, a Kealakehe grad­u­ate and for­mer de­fen­sive stand­out with the Washington Huskies foot­ball team, is tak­ing part in the Amer­i­cas Pa­cific Chal­lenge as part of the USA Se­lects rugby squad.

Wooching scored his first in­ter­na­tional try for the Red, White and Blue on Wednesday in the Amer­i­can’s 49- 36 win over host na­tion Uruguay.

The USA Se­lects are now 1-1 at the event, and will wrap up play against

Canada on Sun­day.

The team opened up the tour­ney with a 48-26 loss to Samoa. De­spite com­ing out on the los­ing end, it was a mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence for Wooching, who is proudly of Samoan de­scent.

“Sur­real feel­ing,” Wooching wrote on Twit­ter. “Played my first in­ter­na­tional game against the moth­er­land.”

After mak­ing a name for him­self with Washington — lead­ing the team in sacks his se­nior sea­son — Wooching made the sur­pris­ing de­ci­sion to leave foot­ball be­hind, pass­ing up on a chance to make an NFL ros­ter to pur­sue his dream of play­ing rugby for the United States in the Olympics.

Wooching was a stand­out rugby player be­fore he caught on as a top foot­ball prospect. The skill set he re­fined in that sport helped him turn into a multi-faceted ath­lete on the foot­ball field, both as a ball car­rier and de­fen­sively. He started his ca­reer with the Huskies as a full­back be­fore be­com­ing a force at out­side line­backer.

“I can’t even de­scribe how much rugby has helped. It gave me a huge ad­van­tage,” Wooching said in an in­ter­view with West Hawaii To­day prior to his se­nior sea­son.

It showed on his try against Uruguay, ath­let­i­cally haul­ing in the long kick from fly­half Mike McCarthy for what will likely be his first of many sport­ing a USA jer­sey.

Wooching

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