Good things often come in small packages and when it comes to prep wrestling the 103 pound weight division may see a battle between giants.
This past Saturday Kealakehe played host to an all-schools wrestling meet which saw some of the premiere grapplers in the state going head to head.
Kamehameha’s Megan Aina weighed in at 99 pounds while three times BIIF champion Konawaena’s Alexandra Aoki dropped one weight class to feature two of the best wrestlers at 103.
Aina, who believes in the theory that to be the best she must compete against the best, moved up a weight class earlier in the season to challenge Aoki and lost by pin in the second round.
This past Saturday Aina was determined to turn things around on Aoki and became the aggressor early on as she tried to keep the more experienced wrestler off balance.
“Megan led going into the third period by a score of 7-4,” Kamehameha coach Marlon Miller said. “But instead of wrestling to win she got conservative and wrestled not to lose.”
Aoki overpowered Aina during the final two minute period to squeak by with an 8-7 victory.
“In that match Alex (Aoki) showed everyone why she is a three time BIIF champion, going on her fourth BIIF title,” Miller said. “I am looking forward to them meeting again at Kamehameha’s Tournament on Jan. 30 and also in the BIIF Championships.”
While Aina dropped her close match her older sister, Jenna Aina, was able to avenge her only loss in BIIF competition by beating Wildcat Daniele Hubbard in a nail biting overtime score 9-7.
Jenna Aina’s victories at the 114 weight class led to her capturing first in that division and provided the Warrior girls with another impressive meet.
Warrior teammates Rustee-Ann Johansen, junior at 140, Kanoe Padaken, sophomore at 108, Kaopua Sutton, senior at 175, and Jasmine Iuta, freshmen at 220, all had perfect records on the day.
Especially impressive for the Kamehameha girls was Jasmine Iuta who weighs under 175, but was bumped to the higher weight division by her coach.
“One thing Jaz has going for her is that her practice partner, Kao Sutton, beats her up in practice every day,” Coach Miller said. “I tell my wrestlers at the beginning of the season that their mission is to make it hard for their partner. Their goal is to make them the hardest wrestler their partner will see all season.”
Iuta went on to pin both her opponents in the heavyweight division which now makes her the person to beat in that weight class.
“I pinned the girls from Kau and HPA in the second round,” Iuta said. “During the match with the Kau girl I used a lot of head snapping. I couldn’t shoot on her, so I used more momentum and less muscular force to try and counter her moves.”
“Against the HPA girl I felt that that we were around the same experience level so I used some moves that my dad taught me,” Iuta said. “The move that I felt the most comfortable with was the head and arm and to pin her I used a head chancer.”
Honokaa had a good showing with two girls taking second place finishes in Heather Sugimoto, 125, and Jessica Muskatt, 175, both going 2-1.
For Dragon boys it was Geo Chavez-Pardini, 160, and Kalai Niau, 189, winning all three of their matches resulting in first place finishes. Teammate Preston Cawagas, 171, also had a good day going 2-1 and finishing second in a tough weight division.
Chavez-Pardini and Niau both won their first won matches by pin with Chavez-Pardini taking a superior decision in his final match while Niau came away with a close decision in his final match.
“I was able to win my first two matches with first round pins using the head and arm technique,” Niau said. “My third match was against Ryan Pilanca of Kealakehe and I beat him on points, 13-11.”
During his third match Niau was up by 10 points and nearly had his opponent pinned on two occasions, but needed to hang on in the final round to escape with a narrow victory.
Niau weighed in on Saturday at 171.8 pounds and was required to wrestle at the heavier 189 class, but the senior believes that he will compete at the 171 class by the time the BIIF championships roll around.
“I probably can win BIIF’s this year at 171,” Niau said.
Two Kamehameha boys also had unblemished marks at Kealakehe. Justin Hirae, junior at 114, Nalu Souza, sophomore at 120, established themselves as contenders in their weight divisions.
The host Waveriders had several good performances as well with defending BIIF champion Jodi Ozaki winning both her matches at 120 along teammates Justin Tanaka, 2-0 at 135, and Dillon Cortes, 3-0 at 130.
Cortes continues to be undefeated in BIIF competition and needed to get past a trio of tough competitors to keep his mark in tact.
“During my first match I tried to work the half-nelson and then went to set up the high crotch shot,” Cortes said of his first round pin.
The second match against Waiakea’s Ryan Tampon was to be the real testing ground for Cortes as both wrestlers lead the 130 class, but Tampon was forced to forfeit the match due to an unscheduled bathroom break.
In his third and final match of the day Cortes faced Keaau’s Jesse Huihui who is a gifted all around athlete.
“I had a hard time getting shots because Jesse is really good at tie ups,” Cortes said. “He’s really hard to pin and tough to get on his back.”
With a few seconds left in the third and final period, and up by a 4-0 score, Cortes managed to flip Huihui on his back for the pin.
‘Rider teammate Justin Tanaka took on two different Hilo opponents while working hard on his wrestling skills.
“I was trying to have fun on Saturday and work on my technique,” Tanaka said. “I train hard and work hard and I always try to get the first take down.”
In his first match Tanaka won during the first round with a 15-0 score and his second match went the full three rounds to win on points 15-3.
Tanaka used a variety of wrestling moves from the half-nelson, to chicken wing and leg rides as he practiced the various moves associated with prep grappling.