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Giant leap: Krau visits renowned IMG Academy | News, Sports, Jobs

Kaholi Krau trains at Vernon Patao’s HI Performance Athletics Gym in Maui Lani’s Industrial District on Tuesday. Krau, a 15-year-old offensive lineman from Wailuku, will depart next month for his freshman year at IMG Academy, a prestigious athletic prep school in Florida. Photos by J Patao Photography

WAILUKU — As Kaholi Krau stood alongside Vernon Patao outside Patao’s HI Performance Athletics gym Tuesday afternoon, it was hard to tell who the 15-year-old and who the two-time US Olympic weightlifter were.

Krau, who recently graduated from the eighth grade at Iao Intermediate School, will join IMG Academy next month – he found out about his acceptance into the prestigious sports prep school last week.

Wailuku native and former Baldwin High School offensive lineman Miki Fifita attended IMG Academy for the 2015 season as a senior before playing at Oregon State College, but Krau is a freshman at the school in Bradenton, Fla. a rare feat for a Maui athlete in any sport.

“I’m very excited because like you said, you can’t remember anyone ever going to IMG (of Maui) for any other sport, so that’s crazy to me.” Kraus said. “I’m very excited. That sounds amazing, a lot of pressure but yes I can live up to that.”

Krau, who is currently 6ft 5 and weighs 283lbs, has been playing football for around 10 years and has always been tall for his age.

Vernon Patao (left) stands alongside Kaholi Krau on Tuesday. Krau has been working with Patao, a two-time Olympic lifter, for about two years.

“I love the sport, I usually play offensive line, I like it, I’m good at meeting people.” said Krau with a mischievous smile. “That’s a positive side. … I’ve always been a giant since I was in kindergarten.”

It took a while to give up dreams of being a quarterback, wide receiver or running back, but Krau is now laser focused on being an offensive lineman.

“I started accepting it a few years ago because I can’t run or catch, but I can push these people off my quarterback.” he said. “That’s when I realized I was an offensive lineman. I really like being an offensive lineman, just stretching my team and keeping my team happy.”

Krau has been attending camps on the mainland during the summer months for several years — he almost decided to attend Lipscomb Academy in Tennessee, where Trent Dilfer, who won a Super Bowl as quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, is the coach.

“There was this other school that wanted me for high school.” Kraus said. “I went to their soccer camp and they just swarmed around me and said, ‘Wow, how old are you and where are you from? We never see you in this area.’ I said, “I’m from Hawaii,” and they said, “Wow, you’re from Hawaii.” They just started to keep in touch, but we ended up going with IMG.”

Kaholi Krau does squats during practice at HI Performance Athletics on Tuesday.

Krau discussed the decision with his parents, Nick Krau and Staycie Kaholi, and IMG emerged as the one who would enlist his services.

“My mom and I went there to see it and it was pretty cool,” Kaholi Krau said of his visit to the IMG campus in October.

The final approval notice came last Friday.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I go to this school.'” said Kaholi Krau. “I’m super excited.”

Krau is the eldest of five Krau children – his father said Kaholi’s biggest fan is his 4-year-old sister Brilee.

Kaholi Krau is aware of the opportunity he has in front of him.

“I’m very proud because I can make Hawaii look good,” he said. “And I intend to do that. They will say, “Where are you from? Oh Hawaii – that’s amazing, we’ll be looking for more kids like that there. “

Krau has been working with Patao at his gym in Maui Lani’s Industrial District for about two years. Before that, he worked with well-known Maui coaches Lawrence Kauhaahaa and Val Patao, brother of Vernon Patao.

“It’s insane to work with a former Olympian” Kraus said. “And he’s very nice. He’s made me a lot stronger, I’ve improved so much since I started this weightlifting program.”

Vernon Patao is about 10 inches shorter than his 15-year-old protégé.

“Well, his improvement over the past few years has been significant,” said Patao. “The thing is we haven’t worked on him getting stronger so the potential for him to get stronger and faster is erratic because he hasn’t really matured yet. No facial hair yet, that’s a great thing.

“We’re working on his movements and his agility, in terms of his potential with his athleticism he looks damn good.”

Krau has to be in Bradenton by July 14th.

“I’ll miss my home a lot, but I’ll probably be able to come back during the breaks,” he said. “Or maybe a bit in the summer, so I’m not worried.”

He has high goals in mind.

“Oh, I’m definitely aiming for the NFL, the highest level I can get.” Kraus said.

* Robert Collias can be reached at [email protected]

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