Gabriel “Gabe” Luna-Tautua is a junior at Highline High School (class of 2024), who’s been wrestling with challenges most of his life.

But now he’s a 4.0 Running Start student, All-Star Wrestler and also starts on both offense and defense for the impressive Highline Pirates football team.

But recently, he’s been faced with a torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury, which he’s healing from.

You could say that whenever he’s confronted with a challenge, he tackles it head-on.

“Man…I faced a lot of challenges,” Luna-Tautua told The B-Town Blog. “I learned a lot in life and one big factor is this saying my mama always told me – ‘You are who you hang with‘ – this always stuck with me because I have a had a lot of people who I thought wanted the best for me, wanting the opposite.”

We were able to catch up with him recently – here’s our interview:

Please tell us about your life.

I grew up in the White Center and Burien area my whole life, I grew up with JUST my Mom for the first 5 years of my life; she had me at a young age and honestly, I do everything for her. Everything I do is to pay my Mom back for sticking up for me when nobody would. She loved me when others hated me. As a young single mother, she was treated unfairly by her “family,” but that didn’t change her love for me. My biological dad had passed away in a shooting. I never met him. But later on in life God blessed me and my Mom with a Man I consider my Father. He helped my Mom raise me and took me in as if I was his own. Not many people do that and that is why I call him my Dad. I have a little brother that looks up to me and I want to show him that he could do anything he puts his mind to.

You were recently honored as “Best Wrestler of the Year”?

Diving into High School wrestling. I had no experience whatsoever, I want to give my coach Sophie and Coach Jones credit for teaching me and supporting me the whole season. I ended my season short due to a torn PCL, but as a first year wrestler, I was able to be the first Highline Pirate to receive all league kinco MVP/ best wrestler of the year. It was a Blessing. 

You’re a 4.0 Running Start student – what/where are you studying?

I am a 4.0 running start student, I was told my whole life by my Mom and my dad “school comes first”. And Let me tell you….my Mom don’t play about my studies. I attended Highline High School for my first 2 years and then got accepted into the running start program where I am currently aiming to major in business and God willing transfer to UW after I graduate high-school with my AA degree. 

You also play football for the Pirates? What positions? What are your thoughts on the football program?

Football. I LOVE football, and playing for the hometown is the best feeling. I start for the Pirates on both sides of the ball, both offense and defense at the nose guard, and offensive guard positions. Honestly I feel like we have the best football program anyone can offer. My coaches are always supportive and always pushing us to do better and teaching us ways to do so. I plan to play football for UW and I am putting in the work to get there.

How do sports help you in life?

Well sports has always been my outlet. If I have a bad day, I know the moment I step on that field or mat with my teammates, it all goes away for those three hours. We all have ways of getting things off our chest or dealing with problems. Sports is mine.

What is a typical day like for you?

I wake up around 5 a.m. for football practice at 6 a.m., then I go to school and put the same effort I put into my sports into my studies. After school I go home and study more and get at least a week ahead of school just so I can have time for my sports. I drive to my physical therapy appointment and to be honest, it has been going great. My PCL is healed 100% and they have been doing awesome with me. After my appointment I drive to White Center to attend my club wrestling practice. I wrestle for the WHITE CENTER WARRIORS. Great program, all my coaches are amazing. After that, I come home to my Mom’s homemade delicious meals and this completes my day.

What kinds of challenges have you faced?

Man…I faced a lot of challenges, I learned a lot in life and one big factor is this saying my mama always told me – “You are who you hang with” – this always stuck with me because I have a had a lot of people who I thought wanted the best for me, wanting the opposite. They would want to see me fail and fail again. Influencing me to make poor choices and to be honest, it was my fault because I should make my own choices. That was most definitely my lowest point in life. I felt like I had nobody and I was on a bad page with my Mom, but I had to learn these things, I had to make a change and choose people that had the same mindset as me. Take a look around my circle now, you see athletes that want to get to the next level, you see people trying to better their future. 

Congrats Gabriel – keep it up. We’re all rooting for you!

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