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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Polo Manukainiu the latest in OU's Tongan pipeline with Euless Trinity

After Euless Trinity finished off a 35-8 win over Haltom on Friday night at Pennington Field, University of Oklahoma commit Polo Manukainiu took his place in front of his team. Manukainiu led his team in the postgame haka, a Maori war dance made famous in sports by New Zealand's All Blacks rugby team and performed by Hawaii's football team as well.
Nila Kasitati, an OU freshman from Trinity, brought the haka to the Sooners during two-a-days.
As the players repeat the rhythmic movements led by Manukainiu, they yell out in Tongan in answer to the 6-foot-6, 256-pound defensive end.
Euless is home to more Tongans per capita than any other city in the country. More than two percent of the town of about 52,000 are Pacific Islanders with most of those coming from Tonga, a small group of islands in the South Pacific.
“This is just where a lot of people end up when they first come over here,” said another big, Tongan defensive end for the Trojans, Gaius Vaenuku.
Trinity's football team has certainly benefitted from the pipeline.
They've won three state championships in the last six seasons and made the state title game in each of the last two.
The Sooners have started to take advantage of that, first with Kasitati and now with Manukainiu, who committed to OU in early September.
“I've definitely been talking to the other guys about coming with me,” Manukainiu said. “Especially the other defensive ends.”
Vaenuku (6-4, 244) and Sam Tevi (6-5, 255) are also drawing serious looks from the Sooners.
The pair joined Manukainiu in Norman for the Missouri game last month.
“He always talks about OU like he wants us to go with him,” Vaenuku said.
The Trinity player the Sooners are after more than any other, now that Manukainiu has pledged to OU, is linebacker Brian Nance.
Nance considered committing to OU at the same time as his teammate but decided to take a step back and wait until after the season, saying he didn't want it to be a distraction. He's scheduled to visit OU, Baylor and USC.
“I'm about at the same spot,” Nance said. “I just want to take my time with is and make sure I make the right choice.”
Both Nance and Manukainiu have battled injuries. Nance came back from an ACL injury but looks 100 percent now, while Manukainiu played but had to be relieved often during Trinity's win Friday.
“I'm not full strength but I'm feeling OK,” Manukainiu said. “I've just got to get used to playing with it before the playoffs.”

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