The Iliad

The Student News Site of Poway High School

The Student News Site of Poway High School

The Iliad

The Student News Site of Poway High School

The Iliad

New wrestling coach makes impact on program

Of the many sports programs boasted by Poway High School, wrestling stands out as one of the most legendary. The program is currently number one in the state, and third in the nation after a whirlwind season. A big contributor to the program’s success both historically and in the present is its incredible coaching staff.

This season, the already stellar lineup was bolstered by the addition of new coach Aliaksandr Kikiniou, whose students call Coach Kiki. It may have been his first year coaching at Poway but Kikinou has been training athletes for 20 years. What drove him to pursue coaching was a desire to pass on his love for the sport. 

Kikinou is no stranger to the wrestling world and has a stunning resume as a 2-time Olympic finalist in the Greco-Roman wrestling style. Over the course of his career, Kikinou has also won three European championship medals and one world championship bronze. Most recently, the now forty-four-year-old stunned wrestling fans as he made it to the final round of the US Olympic Trials for Greco-Roman wrestling in the 77kg weight class on April 20.

He describes his participation at the Olympics as “a feeling that cannot be conveyed or described in words – these emotions, these experiences – it is not comparable with anything, with any other feelings,” Kikiniou said. 

For Kikiniou, wrestling seems to run in the family, as both of his sons compete for the Poway wrestling program. Freshman Arseni Kikiniou, the runner-up state champion for the 106 pound weight class, and senior Aliaksandr “Sasha” Kikiniou, a senior, placed sixth in the state for the 165-pound weight class. 

Coach Kikiniou describes coaching his sons as a paradoxical endeavor: “it’s both easy and difficult to train them. It’s easy because I know everything down to the smallest detail, what they need to train and how to achieve success, but it’s difficult to train because when they compete, and I see that if something doesn’t work out for them, I can’t go to the wrestling mat and help them cope with an opponent,” Kikinou said.

Sasha has been wrestling for 13 years and hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps. He has come to love wrestling because it has helped him grow as both an athlete and individual.

All of the time, money, and effort he puts into wrestling is worth it to him because of “the toughness, mindset, and strength that come along with it’, Sasha said.

One of his teammates, Sophomore Aaron Klein, feels the future of the wrestling program at Poway will continue to be bright, especially with the addition of a new coach from the 2023-24 season onwards. Klein has been wrestling for six years and says what sets the Poway program apart is the attitudes of everyone involved. 

“It’s how we act with each other, how we treat each other like a family, and how our coaches help us succeed,” Klein said.

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